The choices are yours, tough with this spring’s theatre

By Jacqui Theobald

Photo: Alan Bomar Jones as Thurgood Marshall in the Human Race Theatre’s production of ‘Thurgood,’ running April 27 – May 14

It starts with one-man show, ‘Thurgood,’ April 27–May 14

It’s history, as pertinent now as when it was the news of the day. Thurgood, a one-man show starring Alan Bomar Jones, is a powerhouse. Thurgood Marshall was a brilliant attorney, educated at Howard University School of Law when Harvard wasn’t available to him because of his race. Civil rights crusader across the country, particularly the South, he was both beloved and hated—and the first African-American Justice named to the Supreme Court.

The play will debut in a small venue, The Caryl D. Philips Creativity Center, the 54-seat theatre space of the Human Race Theatre Company.

Scott Stoney directs.

Marshall was a man with a huge, dynamic personality, a standout since his earliest years in Baltimore. He had supportive parents, who sacrificed and scraped by, determined to make sure their two sons were educated. Then, as now, there was angst between some police and some citizens. Marshall managed to stay safe as he successfully defended case after case across the South. It was his nomination and election to the Supreme Court that secured his permanent place in U.S. history.

This is the first play written by George Stevens, Jr., who has created many TV and movie scripts. Though, it is certainly not his first time to show interest in Marshall, equality, or American justice. He created the 1991 TV miniseries Separate But Equal about Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court case that ruled segregation in public schools unconstitutional. Marshall founded and became executive director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Alan Bomar Jones is one of the best actors of our region. He’s been a member of the Human Race Theatre Company for 20 years, and he performs internationally, and directs and lectures as well.

In one-man shows, he has brought to life real-life stories of men as disparate as Nelson Mandela, hero of South Africa, and the perhaps less well-known Elijah Pierce, the son of a former slave who became a barber, itinerant preacher, and folk artist carver of animals.

Jones’ resume includes over 70 professional shows, college workshops, and recorded interviews of family histories.

Jones enlivens the passion and dedication of Marshall, as well as his quirky sense of humor.

Human Race’s “Thurgood” takes the stage April 27–May 14 at Caryl D. Philips Creativity Center, 116 N. Jefferson St. in Dayton. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday–Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $25. The performance is on the second floor, with elevator and handicapped access. For tickets or more information, please visit HumanRaceTheatre.org, TicketCenterStage.com, or call 937.228.3630.

 

The ‘oldest established permanent floating crap game,’ Guys and Dolls, May 19–20

Guys and Dolls is the kind of show that gets in your head and leaves you humming along or imaging one of the colorful scenes of old Broadway as if it had always been part of your life. And it probably has been—it first appeared on Broadway in 1950.

Based on several of Damon Runyon’s original short stories about small-time gangsters or con artists, it features Frank Loesser’s very catchy music and lyrics and clever book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling.

“Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” “Luck Be A Lady,” “A Bushel and A Peck,” and the sweet ballads “I’ve Never Been In Love Before” and ”More I Cannot Wish You.” Sound familiar? And there’s more, of course. Wouldn’t it be fun to perform “Take Back Your Mink” in a high-pitched Brooklyn accent as Adelaide does?

Each character is a character, almost a type. You have only to say Sky Masterson or Nathan Detroit to know a bit of the story. You may have seen the film with Brando and Sinatra. You may even have been in it; as, in the more than half century since it won five Tony’s, it has been a school and community theatre favorite.

Dare 2 Defy brings its own dynamic and takes the Victoria stage with high energy and engaging skill.

Look for the full preview in DCP May 16.

Dare 2 Defy’s Guys and Dolls takes the stage May 19 and 20 at the Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St. in downtown Dayton. Show is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with an additional Saturday 2 p.m. matinee. For tickets or more information, please visit D2Defy.com or TicketCenterStage.com, or call 937.228.3630. 

 

The ladies have it in ‘The Odd Couple,’ May 26–June 4

“I actually think the female version of this play is funnier,” director Tony Copper says. He suggested the script, and it was selected to complete this season in Xenia. Creator Neil Simon wrote the female-focused production in 1986, after the enormous success of his original 1968 story of messy Oscar and neat-freak Felix who move in together.

Now we have Olive Madison, played by Olivia Ekler, and Florence Unger, played by Abigail Conner. It’s the variation that sees the two women separated from husbands, bringing their own issues and tastes to their shared space.

“The play’s well cast and going smoothly,” Copper says. “I fell in love with this version when I did it twice some years ago in several seasons of summer theatre.”

Other cast members, mostly from Greene County and the immediate area, are Edith Waugh as Sylvie, Jenn Sparks as Mickey, Deb Zweber as Renee, Tony Copper as Manolo Costazuela, and Patrick Taylor as Jesus Costazuela.

‘The Odd Couple’ takes the stage May 26–June 4 at Xenia Area Community Theater, 45 E. Second St. in Xenia. The May 26 premiere is at 6:30 p.m.; May 27 and June 2-3 shows are at 7:30 p.m., with a June 4 matinee at 3 p.m. For tickets or more information, please visit XeniaAct.org or call 937.372.0516.

 

More coming soon from Dayton City Paper:

Dayton Playhouse’s Ragtime, May 5–21

Dayton Theatre Guild’s ‘Wonder of the World,’ May 12–28

 

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

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