July theatre companies rev down, up for new season

Photo: (l-r) Kayla Graham as Cassius, Jared Mola as Brutus, and Miriam Eckenrode-Saari as Cato for YS Theater’s ‘Julius Caesar’

By Jacqui Theobald

Without the constant pressure of audition/rehearsal/performance schedules in a regular season, area theatres still manage to find plenty to do in the summer. It is the perfect time to repair and prepare, getting a head start on fall programming.

Sinclair’s Blair Hall Theatre renovates

After a long wait, renovations have begun at Sinclair’s Blair Hall Theatre and its well-worn interior. Progress seems to be moving faster than possible—the new look may be startling. It’s the first major change since 1974, well on the way to a half-century of service.

By the third day, old seats were gone, and the once-elegant red carpeting, too. The place was empty. It seemed more vast than possible, compared to just a week ago. “It’s empty. The acoustics are completely different,” observes Patti Celek, marketing specialist, on the second day of demolition.

Upgraded aisle lighting will also be installed, and new seating will be one of the last parts to make an appearance. The old dull red/orange will be replaced by a sophisticated contemporary gray. Beautiful wooden arms will provide more comfort. A slightly different arrangement will improve sightlines. Very few seats will be lost, now accommodating 447, down only 12 seats from 459.

Officials ambitiously hope to see the completion goal achieved before their fall conference, which occurs in August.

The first play to try the new space will be “Blues For an Alabama Sky.” Auditions were held this summer and the cast will have extra time to memorize their lines. Rehearsals begin when school resumes. Performances begin Oct. 6 for the play by Pearl Cleage, directed by Kimberly Borst.

The Blair Hall Theatre is located at 444 W. Third St. in downtown Dayton. For more information, please visit Sinclair.edu.

The Guild’s last call for ‘All My Sons,’ June 27

The classic 1947 Arthur Miller play “All My Sons” is set for the Dayton Theatre Guild’s season opener in August, but is holding auditions now. Director Debra Kent is eager to get a bit of a head start on the complicated and emotional story of two families, friendsm and business partners, as well as their children.

Based on an actual occurrence of issues—knowingly manufacturing damaged plane parts that caused the death of 21 pilots in WWII—the story is dramatic. It was originally directed by Elia Kazan and was a newsmaker when the House Un-American Activities committee got interested.

The play ran for nearly two years on Broadway, earning a couple of Tonys. It was Miller’s second play, first hit, and like many classics, its theme continues to resonate today.

Five adult males, one in his 60s, several in their 30s, a little boy, and four women, one in her 60s, are required. Auditions Tuesday are at 7 p.m. at the Dayton Theatre Guild. There’s a huge parking lot behind the theatre.

The Dayton Theatre Guild is located at 430 Wayne Ave. in downtown Dayton. For more information, please visit DaytonTheatreGuild.org.

X*ACT auditions for ‘Play On,’ July 10 and 11

“Play On” by Rick Abbott is a play about a community theatre in rehearsal—and suffering, because the playwright continues to make changes. If you’ve ever had a similar experience, it may induce a shiver of recognition. For others, it’s pure fun. Cold readings will be at the theatre, 45 E. Second Street, Xenia at 7 p.m. both nights.

Three males and four females plus three other roles are available. Crew and back stage personnel are also needed. Patrick Taylor directs. Show opens Sept. 8.

X*ACT Theatre is located at 45 E. Second St. in Xenia. For more information, please visit XeniaAct.org.

Hail ‘Julius Caesar’ with YS Theater, July 14–15, 21–22

Join Yellow Springs Theater in a free Shakespeare shindig. “Julius Caesar” will be presented July 14 and 15, and July 21 and 22 outdoors behind Mills Lawn School. Lorrie Sparrow-Knapp directs.

The performances will go on no matter the weather, rain or shine. Patrons are asked to bring their own seating. Music begins at 7 p.m., the show starts at 8. Donations will be solicited.

The characters are familiar: dominating Caesar, described by Christopher Morley as “arrogant with growing ambition”; Calpurnia, the dreamer; high-minded Brutus; Cassius; Mark Antony; and the soothsayer, who warns, “Beware the Ides of March.” Intrigue and dirty deeds reign.

If you find parallels to today’s political scenes, it may be even more delightful; it’s the power of the classics.

Mills Lawn School is located at 200 Walnut St. in Yellow Springs. For more information, please visit Facebook.com/YSTCOhio.

D2D auditions for Bat Boy, July 15

The play is Bat Boy, a musical comedy/horror show about a half boy/half bat. Auditions take place in Studio B at the Victoria Theatre, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The plan is to hold preliminary readings in the morning and callbacks between 2:30 and 5 p.m. the same day.

Here’s what you’ll need: a one-minute memorized monologue, 32 bars of music, and a contrasting piece of music.

If you are unfamiliar with the space above the Victoria Theatre, follow this trail: find the red awning that proclaims “The Loft” and the door beneath it. It’s between the Victoria doors and Uno’s. Go in and find the button panel to the left. Push “Studio B.” That should open the inner door in front of stairs to the second floor. Go along the long hall and around the corner. Go in the double doors on your left. The studio is on the right. (It is easier than it sounds.)

Batboy will be performed in the Mathile Theatre, the intimate black box part of the Schuster, Oct. 27, 28, and Nov. 3. Rehearsals begin at the end of September.

The Victoria Theatre is located at 126 N. Main St. in downtown Dayton. To register for auditions, please visit Facebook.com/D2D.theatre. For more information, please contact Dionne Meyer at DMeyerD2D@gmail.com. 

Historic Indiana tent theatre revived in July

The Nettlecreek Players are presenting a repertory season under a big tent in Hagerstown, Indiana, just 66 miles west, north of I-70. The project began in 1971 as an old-time summer stock theatre, bringing stories to life under a massive circus tent. It ceased in 1996, but has been back since 2015 to keep the tradition alive. This year, “The Fantasticks,” “Broadway on Main,” and “Thumbelina” will rotate.

For more information, please visit NettleCreekPlayers.com.

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

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