On stage

Halloween theatre frights and delights

by Jacqui Theobald

Photo: Dean Swann, as Sweeney Tood and Pamela Matheson Jones as Mrs. Lovett in Beavercreek Community Theatre’s production of “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

Dark and Funny at Dayton Playhouse

If gobs of candy and supplicating children are not first on your favorites list, mount your broom and make your choice from a couple of “frightful” community theatre offerings, both opening Oct. 31!

Based on a controversial 1968 movie, “George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Live” is presented by the Dayton Playhouse in a national premiere. The play is a tribute to the classic black and white, low-budget film. The controversial original became a cult classic dealing with social issues including Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement, with zombies and ghoulish situations. George A. Romero was co-writer and director of the unrated film that eventually earned surprisingly good financial returns.

The Dayton Playhouse production is directed by Geoff Burkman, with a 13-member cast that includes a seven-person Enzomble™. With proper respect and a dash of humor, the play, mildly tongue-in-cheek, presents a series of alternate endings. In the movie, no one survived the night of challenges and different issues. This time, could there be more hope?

“The black/white theme will be created by the enormously talented technical staff,” Burkman, a longtime Romero fan, said. Chris Newman is set designer, Nick Vanderpool is lighting designer, Patrick Hayes creates make-up, Kathleen Carroll is costume designer.

The Playhouse cast includes Marcus Simmons II as Ben, Jill Lynott as Barbara, Jared Mola as Tom, Adam Clevenger as Chief McClelland, Noah Shane as Harry and Christina Lewis as Helen. They twist and romp and perish and revive their way through the unlikely plot. The director cautions, “This is not a show for those with delicate sensibilities.”

Performances run from Oct. 31-Nov. 9 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Dayton Playhouse, 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave. in Dayton. For reservations and more information, visit thedaytonplayhouse.com or contact 937.424.8477.

If the weather isn’t ghoulish on Sunday, Nov. 2 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Zombie Dogz food truck will be in the Playhouse parking lot before the matinee. Check Zombie Dogz’s or Dayton Playhouse’s Facebook pages for updates.


Slicing Things Up Darkly at Beavercreek Community Theatre

Sweeney Todd is a demon of a show with sophisticated demands on the cast, crew and director and near operatic music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The book is by Hugh Wheeler, adaptation by Christopher Bond. Opening on Oct. 31, it’s perfect for Halloween.

On Broadway, first in 1979, in subsequent revivals and in the 2007 movie directed by Tim Burton, “Sweeney Todd” has earned critical praise and many awards. The music will get in your head and the plot concerns anger, retribution, a barber’s razor performing deadly tasks and meat pies made of … do you really want to know?

Director Doug Lloyd states there’s some humor in this show. Right! He is more convincing when he brags about the “amazing voices and professionalism of the 23 people in the cast,” adding, “Despite the difficulty of the material, about 55 people auditioned. This is such a rich theatre piece.” Lloyd has chosen to use a pre-recorded full orchestra, due to lack of space at the Beavercreek Theatre and the difficult music.

In the challenging role of Sweeney is Dean Swann with Pamela Matheson Jones as Mrs. Lovett, the pie baker. Also featured are Anthony Sollenberger as Anthony Hope, Kami Flanders as Johanna, Malcolm Walker as Tobias Ragg, Chuck Larkowski as Judge Turpin, Michael Shannon as The Beadle, Emily Kronenberger as the Beggar Women and Mike Stockstill as Adolfo Pirelli. There are 14 additional actors or singers.

This show requires savvy directorial and design staff – and Beavercreek has them. Kim Warrick is music director, Stacy Gear does the choreography and Emily Phillips is stage manager. In addition, prize-winning Chris Harmon designed the 19th century set and Carol Finley undertook all those period costumes. John Faltenbach creates the atmospheric lighting design, with sound design by David Meyer.

“I based my design on the concept of Victorian era illustration style of ‘penny dreadfuls,’ the serialized cliffhangers that made [Charles] Dickens and other writers so popular,” Harmon said. In fact, as early as 1836, Dickens made references to pies of peculiar origin in both “The Pickwick Papers” and “Martin Chuzzlewit.” “The set will be filled with line drawings of architecture and advertisements. And Dan Ungard, the technical director from Town Hall Theatre, has designed and built or welded the barber chair and trap door for the production,” Harmon said.

The Beavercreek Community Theatre is located at 3868 Dayton-Xenia Road. Performances are Oct. 31-Nov. 9 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. For tickets and information, please call the box office at 937.429.4737 or visit bctheatre.org.


Classic Monsters Reunite October 24 through November 2

Imagine Frankenstein planning to cure monsters, rather than create them. He gathers Wolf Man, the Phantom of the Opera, Count Dracula and other horror movie heroes and villains of the ’30s and ’40s in a comedy-thriller by Martin Downing. The show opens Friday, Oct. 24 with a 6:30 p.m. gala and ends on Sunday, Nov. 2. Shows are on Oct. 25, Oct. 31 and Nov.1 at 7:30 p.m. and on Oct. 25-26 and Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. There will also be a special midnight show on Oct. 31. The Xenia Area Community Theater is located at 45 E. Second St. in Xenia. For tickets and information, please call 937.372.0516 or visit xeniaact.org.

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

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

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