On Stage

The future of the theatre, the “Bare” challenge and “Godspell” – nostalgia with a twist

By Jacqui Theobald
Photo: Heather Gorby and Tamra Francis (front) during Mayhem and Mystery’s production of  “Game Night Grudge”; photo credit: MediaMoments.com / Peter Wine

Why Don’t You Go to the Theatre? This topic will be discussed and debated on Tuesday, March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Creative Cultural Exchange, ArtStreet, Studio D, at the corner of Lawnview Avenue and Kiefaber Street on the University of Dayton campus. Artistic leaders from New York and Chicago and David Brush, formerly of Encore Theatre Company, will look at social and cultural shifts to see if there is a new generation of theatre-goers.

On Stage soon: Two Pop Operettas with very cool music to tempt all ages, coming to the college theatre scene. Then for a real contrast and family-friendly entertainment complete with food, check out Mayhem and Mystery.

“Bare: The Musical” has a provocative theme dealing with real life issues faced universally by teens. It is set in a Catholic co-ed boarding school and confronts sex and sexuality, drugs and many of the challenges adolescents deal with on the road to adulthood.

University of Dayton’s Mainstage theatre season at Boll Theatre in the Kennedy Union will present the rock opera for two weekends, March 15-17 and March 21-13. Book and lyrics by Jon Hartmere, book and Music by Damon Intrbartolo. Gina Kleesattel directs.

Producer Darrell Anderson talked to me about preconceptions: “This show does not resolve the problems, but we hope it will make the audience think and look for their own answers. Some student actors have had to learn to separate their own views from those of their characters. They have to abstract artistic actions from their own lives. That’s not always easy.”

The show does not contain nudity, Anderson explained, “Nowhere in the script is it indicated.  When you consider the meaning of ‘Bare’ described in the lyrics, ‘I feel so exposed,’ it is more about exposing the soul, letting others see inside,” Anderson said. For ticket information and times, call the Kennedy Union Box Office at 937.229.2545.

“Godspell” is coming to Sinclair Community College April 5 through 13 in an “updated 2012 Broadway version that wasn’t even available when our season was first announced,” said Director Kimberly Borst. The Sinclair performance faculty member is excited about their coup in getting the scripts literally hot off the press from Music Theatre International. Neither she nor other Sinclair spokespersons make a big deal about what some may consider innovative casting.

Note two of the major credits:  Natalie Sanders as Jesus, Jordan Duval as Judas. When I asked about a female Jesus, I was told that Sanders, “was simply the best person who auditioned.”

The excitement is focused on the updated music “rearranged to current popular music styles with expanded and advanced vocal harmonies compared to the original version,” according to music director Daniel Greene, Sinclair music faculty. The lyrics and the message are the same as the 1976 Broadway show.

“Godspell” seems to have everlasting life, beginning in London, then off-Broadway in 1971. It has endured through a late ‘80s and a 2000 off-Broadway revival and a Broadway production in 2011. You know some of the music; “Day by Day,” “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” and “Beautiful City” may be something you can count as your own. Based on the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and Moses of the Old Testament, the parables are familiar to many. Stephen Schwartz is the author and has done the music updates and new lyrics. “Godspell” was conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak. The show will be presented in Blair Hall in Building 2 on the SCC downtown campus. For specific dates and times and prices, including a school matinee, and 6 p.m. Thursday night gathering with pre-show appetizers, call 937.512.2808.

The Spaghetti Warehouse, 36 W. Fifth St. in downtown Dayton is the scene of Mayhem and Murder’s fun-for-all-ages interactive comedy whodunit “Game Night Grudge” on Mondays, March 4 through April 29, with one Friday night show on April 26. It is the 63rd script created by husband and wife team of Jerry and Tamra Francis. They perform in the lighthearted piece, along with their company. Beginning at 7 p.m., the cast challenges diners to solve the mystery, even as they try to divert them with false clues. Francis said they love to be part of celebrations, birthdays and anniversaries, engagements and first dates. Special needs groups are encouraged to join the fun. Children welcome. Cost is $25.95, plus tax and tip including complete dinners, but not alcohol. Call 937.461.3913 for required reservations. For more information, go to mayhemmystery.com.

Audition: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” at The Dayton Playhouse

On Monday, March 18 and Tuesday, March 19 from 7-10 p.m., The Dayton Playhouse will be looking for Roman citizens. A sense of comedy will be an asset in the Larry Gelbart and Bert Shrevelove script with Stephen Sondheim’s words and music. From clever slaves to eunuchs, sailors, soldiers and clowns are needed as the basic chorus: eight singers are needed for major roles. Additionally, dancers who sing (or the other way around) will be selected as courtesans, each with a featured dance. For audition specifics go to daytonplayhouse.com, click on Auditions. Jim Lockwood will direct, assisted by Richard Brock. Musical direction is by Ron Kindell, with choreography by Sandra Hyde. Performance dates are weekends, May 31 through June 16.

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

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

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