On Stage

Community theatre heads into autumn

By Jacqui Theobald
Photo: Mike Webb with an audience member during Mayhem & Mystery at the Spaghetti Warehouse, which starts a new production on Mondays in September; photo: MediaMoments.com

In Xenia, a lion roars

“The Lion in Winter” brings all that old intrigue of court to the stage of X*Act, the Xenia Area Community Theatre, for one more weekend, Sept. 20-21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. It is their season opener.

First produced in 1966, the James Goldman play has enjoyed regular professional revivals on Broadway and in London ever since, including this past summer in Hartford and the Berkshire Theatre Group.

There is something about family maneuvering and siblings seeking favor that is timeless. These stakes are serious, as befits the three royal sons – the throne, a princess and possession of the Aquitaine region.

Director Jeff Purvis has a long history with “Lion” – some years ago having played Richard, one of the sons of Henry II in this Christmas story of 1183. “I love the almost snarky dialogue between characters. There’s humor and there’s passion. It is totally real, relevant to us.” (It might be hard to find quite such an elegant royal maze now, however.)

Purvis explained the plot: “It is a Family Christmas but the parents are not yet divorced. Dad’s brought his girlfriend.” Another guest is King Phillip II, son of Mom’s ex, Louis VII, King of France. And there’s Phillip’s daughter who has to marry for political gain. Mom is, among other goals, determined to have a say about the inheritance status of her three sons. There is the threat of Civil War – on more than one front. She has had time to think about it all, having been imprisoned by Henry for the past 10 years.

The cast, according to the director, has outstanding skill and powers of interpretation. “They can handle the emotional challenges of this play,” Purvis said, “and the weight of the beautiful language.” Henry II is played by Tony Copper and Eleanor is Lisa Howard-Welch.

X*ACT is at 45 E. Second St. in downtown Xenia in a standalone building, also containing their art gallery with a new exhibit. Tickets are $15, general admission and $12 for students and seniors. Call 937.372.0516 or go to XeniaACT.org.

Mayhem & Mystery at The Spaghetti Warehouse

“It’s a different kind of theater,” said Tamra Francis, who, with husband Jerry, has written some 65 scripts for their interactive plays presented along with dinner. “We involve the audience and we want them to get into the spirit of the season and just have fun.”

On Mondays through September and October, the spirit will focus on football with
“Tailgate Threats.”

“We don’t have a real football game in the middle of the restaurant, but we do have a cheerleader, Gabby Bracer,” said Francis, who plays the cheerleader.

The real competition, however, is between recipes being judged at the tailgate party by a famous TV chef, Jeff B. Ardy, played by Jerry Francis. The food war is between Bob Block, played by Tim Studebaker and Cindy Clipping played by Heather Atkinson.

Think of all the character names the creative couple has thought up over the years. Have you ever wondered if audience members who participate spontaneously ever return in a cast role? It does happen occasionally, Tamra Francis said.

Check your calendar for a Monday night on the town, and call 937.461.3913 to make the required reservations. There’s a Friday performance Oct. 4. Cost is $25.95 for dinner and Mystery Show, not including tax and tip.

Free awards event at Dayton Playhouse

The annual Blackburn Awards event is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 22 from 7-9 p.m. Named in memory of the late Jack Blackburn – a man who could do well at almost everything in theatre – the awards will acknowledge various production categories of outstanding effort for all the Playhouse shows of the regular 2012-13 season. Audience members vote for favorites. Additionally, there are special volunteer awards.

The evening includes socializing, entertainment and light refreshments. There’s a Facebook event page at facebook.com/events/624355520928458.

No reservations are needed, but if you want more information, you can also call the theater box office at 937.424.8477, which is open Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30-4:30 p.m. You can leave a message any time.

Sinclair fundraiser, Friday, Oct. 4

Sinclair wants to brag about its students’ successes in a busy evening of food, drink, prizes and “Spamalot.” Called “A Vintage Affair,” the event is hosted by Sinclair alumni and presented by Kokosing Construction Company, with proceeds going to the Sinclair Foundation that awards 2,500 scholarships annually. Guests may dress in Gatsby-era style and take home complimentary photos with ’20s props.

The evening begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Great Hall, Ponitz Center, and concludes in Blair Hall Theatre, Building 2. “Spamalot” will also be performed Oct.5, 6, 10,11 and 12. For tickets, please visit box.office@sinclair .edu or call Call 937.512.3330. Earlybird pricing is available until Sept. 27: sinclair.edu/alumni/events. 

Audition opportunity at Dayton Playhouse, Tuesday, Sept. 17

“Deathtrap,” nominated in 1978 for Best Play Tony, has parts for two women and three men age 40 to 60: one smart and uptight, also a not-so-smart attorney; and a 20-ish male who’s good at physically demanding struggles, an age 40 to 50 intelligent, sympathetic female and a “mature” energetic Dutch psychic, comic but not a cartoon character. The plot is twisty, a clever comedy with murder and surprises.

Performances will be Oct. 25 to Nov. 3. Jennifer Lockwood will direct. Contact her at jenjenl2167@yahoo.com. For more information, or if you can’t make it at 7 p.m. Tuesday, call 937.228.8635 or 937.485.0172 for Dodie Lockwood.

 Reach DCP freelance writer Jacqui Theobald at JacquiTheobald@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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Reach DCP theatre critic Jacqui Theobald at JacquiTheobald@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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