2015 Huron Playhouse season announced

A 1950s musical version of “Romeo and Juliet” with different character names,  an old-time favorite comedy from the witty pen of Neil Simon, a Tennessee Williams classic drama and a musical celebrating the 1980s make up the 2015 Huron Playhouse season.

The season will open July 7 with “West Side Story,” set in New York City and pitting two gangs, one American, one Puerto Rican, against each other. When one of the American gang members falls for the sister of the opposing gang, the events lead up to tragedy. 

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Mary Poppins to swoop down on NHS stage

Norwalk High School junior Lauren Steffanni has been drawn to Mary Poppins ever since she was little. The nanny with the magical umbrella that makes her fly is so perfect and confident, Steffanni said she could’t help but admire her.  

Soon, area residents — including, most likely, present-day little girls, will look up to Steffanni — literally. They’ll have to, since she’ll fly. And so will NHS senior Noah Little, who will play the equally mysterious Bert in the NHS production of “Mary Poppins.” A cast and crew of more than 40 will perform the show at 7 p.m. March 12, 13 and 14 as well as 3 p.m. March 15 in the performing arts center next to NHS.

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New ‘Pippin’ a breathtaking treat to savor

Diane Paulus is a disguiser extraordinaire.

How else to explain the magic she’s accomplished by helming the high-flying, magical American Repertory Theater production of “Pippin?”

A re-imagined version of the hackneyed, predictable, thin story about a young man looking to do something extraordinary played on Broadway for 709 performances last year. It won four 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival.

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Coming to terms with a beastly act, however unintentioned — in the jungle

Playwright Greg Pierce could’ve written “Slowgirl” as a straightforward, “from the headlines” play about bullying in which all characters are present, the situation plays out in front of us and the tragic consequences revealed.

Such a play could result in powerful theater, leading us to action.

But Pierce is aiming for something deeper here.

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BSA’s production of ‘Rabbit Hole’ will touch you without depressing you

Why is the woman who’s grieving the loss of her 4-year-old son talking about parallel existences to the teenager who accidentally killed her child?

What’s she doing befriending him in the first place? Isn’t she supposed to harbor animosity toward him, like her husband does? After all, losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to a parent.

But the grieving process is complex and different people react in different ways.

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‘Trying’ a touching play, deftly produced at Clague Playhouse

There’s an exchange in the heartfelt, humorous and tear-jerker play “Trying,” a true story, during which the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. is mentioned.

One of the play’s two characters, the aging, weak former attorney general under President Franklin Roosevelt, asks his young secretary if she knows any blacks who’d discuss the tragedy.

She doesn’t.

“Neither do I,” he responds. “Therein lies the root of the problem. We don’t live with them, we don’t go to school with them, we don’t work with them. One of their poets, Zora Neale Hurston, said, “You can’t know there ‘till you go there.”

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Delightful! ‘A Civl War Christmas’ is cause for celebration at Dobama Theatre

Boy, could many of us use the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln — especially with this season of giving, hope, redemption and reconciliation marred in part by the raw wounds festering in the aftermath of racial tension following shootings of young black men by white police officers.

“With malice toward none…with charity toward all….”

They’re words the people of Ferguson, Mo. and other cities where similar acts have occurred need to hear. That’s especially the case if it’s true, from what I’ve heard, that Ferguson’s residents are destroying their fellow citizens’ businesses and property instead of helping one another get through these tough times. Lincoln’s alive, well and reassuring, but never placed on a pedestal of sainthood, in Dobama Theatre’s moving, refreshing production of the rejuvenating epic play with music “A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration.”

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A revamped, richer ‘Newsies’ at PlayHouse Square

As any journalist knows, a few tweaks to a story can mean the difference between an ordinary article and a truly memorable one. The same holds true for a playwright and that’s proven by Harvey Fierstein revision of the 1992 Disney film “Newsies,” which critics derided and fared miserably at the box office.

Enter writer/actor Fierstein.

He’s helped inject new life into the true Dickensian story about poor children selling newspapers on New York City’s streets in 1899 after they’re forced to pay more for their papers. 

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“Writers block” might be dirty words to writers . . .

But the condition can prove fertile ground for someone looking to create an original, unique work of art. Just ask composer and lyricist Jeff Bowen and librettist Hunter Bell. Their proof is the musical “{title of show}.” The name of the musical might raise eyebrows and cause English teachers fits, but it won Bell a nomination for Best Book of a Musical on Broadway.

The show, a musical comedy about a pair of struggling writers writing a musical about writing a musical, is on-stage through Nov. 16 in an inspiring, vivacious production at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood.

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Show is heavenly

I saw dead people Saturday night — with heart and soul.

They weren’t ghouls, zombies or anything like that. No, these “dead” people were members of a fictional 50s musical group called “Forever Plaid” when they were alive.

It’s fitting that one of the songs they sung was “Heart and Soul.” Because the four cast members of the Off-Broadway musical revue “Forever Plaid,” playing in a quality production at the Beck Center for the Arts through Oct. 12, sang with heart and soul.

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