Theater production season gears up

PARKERSBURG – With the start of the new calendar year, the Parkersburg Actors Guild and the Mid-Ohio Valley Players will kick off the second half of their production seasons in January.

Both community theater organizations will be opening plays this month, on Jan. 18 at the Guild Playhouse on Market Street and at the Players Theater on Putnam Street.

In Parkersburg, the Guild will present “Prelude To A Kiss” on Jan. 18, 19, 25, 26 and 27 and Feb. 1 and 2. The play is aimed at those 13 and up with mild language and discussion of sexal issues.

“Prelue to a Kiss,” is a 1988 play by Craig Lucas which was later adapted into a 1992 movie. It tells the story of a couple that falls in love despite the girl’s pessimistic outlook on life. Shortly after their wedding, a supernatural event tests the strength of their love and commitment. Immediately after exchanging wedding vows, an unknown elderly man asks to kiss the bride. As he does, Rita’s soul and the old man’s magically exchange bodies.

Neither Peter nor the wedding guests grasp what has happened. Peter leaves the wedding with a woman he believes is Rita. During their honeymoon, he comes to realize that Rita’s body is no longer inhabited by Rita’s true personality. He must find the old man and keep his love for Rita alive despite the fact that she is now in an unattractive body.

In Marietta, the next show will be “A Piece of My Heart,” which will be performed Jan. 18, 19, 25, 26 and 27 and Feb. 1 and 2.

Written by Shirley Lauro, “A Piece of My Heart” is a true drama of six women who went to Vietnam: five nurses and a country-western singer booked by an unscrupulous agent to entertain the troops. The play portrays each young woman before, during and after her tour in the war-torn nation and ends as each leaves a personal token at the memorial wall in Washington, D.C.

This weekend, the Guild will also be working on early preparations for its next production with auditions for “The Full Monty” today and Monday at the Guild Playhouse at Eighth and Market streets. Auditions are being held at 7 p.m. today and Monday. Parts are available for 12 men, nine women and a boy age 13 or older.

The Guild will be presenting “The Full Monty” on April 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, 26 and 27. The show has language and adult situations and is intended for mature audiences.

“The Full Monty” is a musical with a book by Terrence McNally and score by David Yazbek. In the Americanized musical stage version adapted from the 1997 British film of the same name, six unemployed Buffalo steelworkers, low on both cash and prospects, decide to present a strip act at a local club after seeing their wives’ enthusiasm for a touring company of Chippendales. One of them, Jerry, declares that their show will be better than the Chippendales dancers because they’ll go “the full monty” – strip all the way. As they prepare for the show, working through their fears, self-consciousness and anxieties, they overcome their inner demons and find strength in their camaraderie.

Prior to “The Full Monty,” the Guild Builder youth theater program will present its annual production in March, following months of work by local students attending weekly classes and rehearsals at the Guild as a way to teach them about live theater.

This year’s Guild Builders production will be “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley Jr.” and it is aimed at all ages. It will be performed March 1,2, 8, 9 and 10 at the Guild Playhouse.

Based on the classic 1964 children’s book written by Jeff Brown, the youth production tells the story of Stanley Lambchop, a normal boy until a bulletin board falls on his bed while he is sleeping and squeezes him so flat he can slide under doors, roll up like a mat, fly like a kite or become a trampoline.

The final two Guild shows will be presented in late spring and mid-summer.

“The Red Velvet Cake War” will be performed by the Guild on May 31 and June 1, 7, 8, 9, 14 and 15. Parental guidance is suggested for mild language and humorous adult behavior.

Written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten, “The Red Velvet Cake War” is the story of three Texas cousins who pick a bad time for the family reunion in Sweetgum, Texas.

The final show of the Guild’s 2012-2013 season will be “Avenue Q” which will be performed July 26 and 27 and Aug. 2, 3, 4, 9 and 10. The mature show features language and some adult behavior.

“Avenue Q” is an American musical in two acts, conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who wrote the music and lyrics. The book was written by Jeff Whitty. “Avenue Q” is an “autobiographical and biographical” coming-of-age parable, addressing and satirizing the issues and anxieties associated with entering adulthood.

Its characters lament that as children, they were assured by their parents, and by children’s television programs such as PBS’s “Sesame Street,” that they were “special” and “could do anything”; but as adults, they have discovered to their surprise and dismay that in the real world their options are limited, and they are no more “special” than anyone else. The musical is notable for the use of puppets alongside human actors.

Following its January production, the MOVP in Marietta will have three more shows before closing its season in the summer.

The musical “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” will be presented March 15, 16, 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30, 2013. It is based on the comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz with book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner.

The show is a day made up of little moments picked from all the days of Charlie Brown, from Valentine’s Day to the baseball season, from wild optimism to utter despair, all mixed in with the lives of his friends (both human and non-human) and strung together on the string of a single day.

The next MOVP production will be William Shakespeare’s classic “Love’s Labour Lost” on April 26 and 27 and May 3, 4, 5, 10 and 11.

In the play, Ferdinand, King of Navarre, opens by declaring that his court will be devoted to ascetic study for three years and, to keep the distractions to a minimum, no women will be allowed within a mile of the court. Berowne, Longaville and Dumaine agree to devote themselves with the King (although Berowne expresses reservations about the venture and its chances for success). Berowne also points out that the king has forgotten an embassy that very day with the Princess of France.

The final show of the MOVP’s season will be “Leaving Iowa” by Spike Manton and Tim Clue. It will be presented June 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 28 and 29.

In the play, Don Browning, a middle-aged writer, returns home and decides to finally take his father’s ashes to his childhood home, as requested. But when Don discovers Grandma’s house is now a grocery store, he begins traveling across Iowa searching for a proper resting place for his father.