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Monday, Jan. 5, 2015

LAUGHS IN THE NEW YEAR

Comedies kick off exciting season

Two theater companies will open shows on the same night across the river from each other Jan. 8, giving audiences a couple of different comedies to sample in the new year.

Shreveport Little Theatre will open “Two on the Aisle, Three in a Van,” directed by Dick King, a helmsman known for his subtle handling of comedy. The play is written by Mary Lynn Dobson and is set in the backstage area and stage door parking lot of a community theater. 

Audiences will get to sample several “plays” being enacted on the “stage” during the performances, all from the perspective of community theater’s unsung heroes – the running crew. Those are the people who make sure the actors are in place, on time and in costume whenever the curtain goes up. Managing and Artistic Director Robert Darrow’s news release about the show explained this inside glimpse of the theater lets the audience in on a well-known community theater secret – sometimes what’s going on behind the scenes is funnier than what the audience gets to see.

The cast for the show includes Jennifer Bush, Cara Johnston, Mike Knutsen, Mat Latz, Mark Rogers, Virginia Walker and Tom Wallace. David White is designing the lights, Chris Gonzales designed the set, Su Stella is scenic artist, Phil Stewart is sound designed, and Peggy San Pedro is designing the costumes.

Performances are scheduled for at 8 p.m. Jan. 8,9,10,15,16, and 17; and at 2 p.m. Jan.11 and 18. All performances will be at 812 Margaret Place. Tickets are $20 for adults. Senior, active military and student tickets are available for $18. Student rush tickets are available at curtain time for $10 cash with a student ID.

For more information, call 424-4439 or go by the box office on Margaret Place from noon to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Across the river at the Bossier Arts Council’s East Bank Theatre, Stage Center will present “Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike.”

The new work by renowned comedic writer Christopher Durang was a 2013 Tony Award winner for best play. It’s a farce about relationships in the area of Twitter, Facebook and the other electronic connections of modern life. 

Stage Center is calling this one “a witty mash-up of Chekhov and smartphones.” Artistic Director Jared Watson said Durang takes characters from several Chekhov works, puts them in a blender and mixes them up to create a hilarious and sometimes touching play set in modern day Bucks County, Pa. Throw in a little old-fashioned voo-doo, and audiences should find something to like in this one.

Performances are scheduled to run Jan. 8-17. Days and times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays. Ticket prices are $18 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. For more information, call 218-9978 or go to www.stagecenterla.com.

Coming this Season

Looking farther ahead, Shreveport Little Theatre recently announced its summer musical for 2015. The historic theater will present “Chicago.” The production is scheduled to open on July 15 and run for three weekends. “Chicago” is a musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. The play takes place in Prohibition-era Chicago and is based on a 1926 play by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about real criminals and crimes. The script pokes fun at the idea of a celebrity criminal and the machinations of the criminal justice system.

The original Broadway production opened in 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 936 performances until 1977. Following a West End debut in 1979 which ran for 600 performances, Chicago was revived on Broadway in 1996, and a year later in the West End. The Broadway revival holds the record as the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, and is the second longest-running show in Broadway history.

Meanwhile, First United Methodist Church in Shreveport’s Emmett Hook Center will produce the classic musical “Mary Poppins” in its facility this summer.

The familiar tale of a magical nanny and a sweet-natured chimney sweep is a musical with music and lyrics by the Academy Award-winning Sherman Brothers. There is also additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, with the book by Julian Fellowes. The production is a combination of the similarly titled series of children’s books by P. L. Travers and the 1964 Disney film.

Rumors on the street at press time were that a local theater director was going to return to the stage to create the chimney sweep for this staging of “Poppins.” Stay tuned.

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