Remembering a local legend and celebrating local premieres
By Jacqui Theobald
Photo: “An Inspector Calls” at Dayton Theatre Guild
UD offers round of applause for longtime theatre educator
Darrell Anderson is an outstanding theatre person – not so good at predicting where his friends’ hearts lie.
“I don’t think there’ll be many people at this retirement party because it’s the same time as the Elite Eight basketball game,” Anderson said.
Over 100 gathered to honor his creativity as University of Dayton’s Theatre Department’s set and lighting designer and memorable, effective educator for some 40 years. Celebrating and applauding Anderson were UD students, present and past; colleagues of Arts and Sciences; his staff and old friends from many other local theatres where he has designed.
“Darrell was in high spirits,” Lori D’Agostino-Gough of the theatre department reported. “He arrived around 5 p.m. with wife Debbie and oldest son Josh; guests already there. Paul Benson, Dean of the College of Arts, spoke. Darrell said a few words. A PowerPoint was shown of his early life in Ripley up to examples of his set and light designs.
“The big crowd stayed right up ’til show time of ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the- Forum’ at 8 p.m.,” she continued. “Darrell sat in the audience to view his set and lighting, full of good food, good cheer and an outpouring of love and admiration.”
Anderson designed for other area theatres, including early days of the Human Race Theatre in the old Biltmore Ballroom. His longtime theatre friend, UD’s Tony Dallas, recalled doing “Moon for the Misbegotten” together. Dallas directed, Anderson designed. With budgets small, “the mantra was scrounge and frugality,” Anderson remembered. “We lugged real stones up the grand staircase and rolled that small-loaded dolly through the theatre because there was no back access. Afterwards, we had to take the loads down those elegant steps.”
Dallas added, “That set won Outstanding Design Award from the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology in 1990.”
Comparing today’s lavish productions, Anderson is not at all sentimental. “It’s nice to have the materials we need,” he said. “It’s not less creative now, but good funding gives us more flexibility.”
For Anderson, communicating both verbally and visually with a play’s director is essential. The creativity happens during the exchanges, the “thinking time” and the compromise. “The energy goes up,” he observed.
It’s the excitement of doing that’s the secret of successful teaching. “It can’t be just texts and tests; they need technical information and then, hands on,” Anderson said. He added, proudly, “I learn 30 to 35 student names each semester. We experience and enjoy the process together.”
“An Inspector Calls” at Dayton Theatre Guild
One week remains to see this still-relevant play from the mid-1940s in a brisk update directed by David Shough with an excellent cast. Part mystery, part English “drawing room,” part conscience-tugging morality play. The play is set in 1912, but, oddly, debuted in Moscow in 1945, then in post-war London, 1946, and had a recent English resurgence in 2011-12. There’s a mid-1950s movie with a scary, evil-eyed Alastair Sim as the Inspector.
The plot revolves around attitudes of an aristocratic family toward the working class – the “deserving poor.” It’s a critique of Victorian hypocrisy.
The cast includes Charles Larkowski, Annie Branning, Caitlyn Maurmeir, Leonardo Santucci, Maximillian Santucci, Christina Tomazinis and Dave Nickel. For tickets and times, please visit daytontheatreguild.org.
Audition tonight only at Dayton Theatre Guild
“The Dead Guy” by Eric Coble. Saul Caplan directs; Debra Kent producing. Visit daytontheatreguild.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information about the characters and script. The Guild is located at 430 Wayne Ave. Good Luck!
Dayton Playhouse announces 2014-15 season
The Playhouse features old musicals, national and regional premieres, Broadway hits and plenty of nostalgia. Five shows in the subscription series plus an extra, “Les Misérables,” in partnership the Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra performed at the Masonic Center. Brian P. Sharp directs; musical director is Ron Kindell.
Sept. 5-21: “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”
Some will remember this feel-good musical: window washer reads a how-to book and becomes chairman of the board. Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, Book by Abe Burroughs, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert. Jeff Sams directs.
Oct. 31-Nov. 9: “Night of the Living Dead” national premiere
Described as an hilarious re-imagining of the legendary classic movie, the play celebrates the movie’s history. The prize-winning play by Christopher Bond, Dale Boyer and Trevor Martin was created by Christopher Harrison and Phil Pattison. Geoff Burkman directs.
Jan. 23–Feb. 8, 2015: “The Fantasticks”
“Try to Remember” there’s a reason this musical ran 42 years in NYC. It’s sweet – not simple, with singable music and a bit of magic. Hear favorites like “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” “Never Say No (Why Did the Kids Put Beans in Their Ears?)” and “They Were You.” Lyrics and book by Tom Jones, music by Harvey Schmidt. Matthew Smith directs.
March 13-22: “Fix Me, Jesus” regional premiere
Several Daytonians traveled to New York last November for the debut of Helen Sneed’s Off-Broadway comedy with an edge. Sneed is better known at Dayton Playhouse’s FutureFest as a clever adjudicator. One critic called her play “whip-smart and engaging.” Brian P. Sharp directs.
May 1-17: “Grease”
Nostalgia circa 1959 at fictional Rydell High; the 1971 Tony Best Musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey with early rock ‘n’ roll is directed by Tina McPhearson, who knows how to deal with big, busy musicals.
Reach DCP theatre critic Jacqui Theobald at JacquiTheobald@DaytonCityPaper.com.