From left, “Casseroles and Mistletoe” “widows” Gwin Edie, Midge Maloney, Paulette Garton and Nancy Wheeley share a bit of gossip July 3. The Columbus Community Theatre production, which includes two dinner performances, begins July 23. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
July 19, 2014 10:45:51 PM
For those bemoaning the coming wane of summer, droop no more. The Columbus Community Theatre (CCT) and Starkville Community Theatre (SCT) have remedies for the blahs. Each group has a production opening this week. They come complete with dinner performances or champagne and dessert receptions, and there are ample opportunities to attend both.
The CCT offers five performances of the comedic play "Casseroles and Mistletoe" July 23-26, including two dinner theater dates and an afternoon option.
The SCT presents six nightly performances of its musical revue, "Unexpected Song: Broadway Re-Revued," July 24-26 and July 31-Aug. 2.
Both presentations promise a light-hearted segue into August.
"Casseroles and Mistletoe"
CCT audiences were introduced in 2012 to the "Casserole Patrol," a circle of widows in a small Southern town who all tried to catch the eye of the same newly-widowed colonel by plying him with food. In 2013, the "girls" reappeared in "A Casserole Patrol Wedding." "Casseroles and Mistletoe" is the third in a four-play series written by Mississippi author Laura Cole Thrash of Philadelphia.
"This is a continuation of the saga of the Casserole Patrol, and the ladies have a new mission," said play director Linda Bobbitt. The women come to the realization they are no longer spring chickens. Fresh antics and encounters surface as they plan for the golden years.
"New characters are brought into the mix, and there are a lot of subplots going on," said Bobbitt.
Jane Crawford plays "Geraldine," the colonel's new wife. It will be her CCT debut.
"I really am having fun with the part," Crawford said. "Geraldine's main thing is holding on to her man. It's 'keep your mitts off,'" she laughed. The collaborative cast experience has, in ways, been a revelation. "Everybody is taking off time from their work, or taking time from their families, or making time in their schedule to do this," she observed. "I'm stepping out of my box for sure, doing this, but everyone has been kind."
The play is set during the Christmas season.
"We tried hard to do this during Christmastime, but everybody's calendars were just so full, so we just decided we would make this 'Christmas in July' for the community," Bobbitt explained. "We're going to have comedy and some song and dance, and a little mystery and intrigue. We're going to run the gamut with it."
The Casseroles cast also includes Spence Andrews, David Coffey, Terry Coffey, Carole Davidson, Gwin Edie, Paulette Garton, Linda Hebert, Vicki Hill, Jerry Hodson, Midge Maloney, Rebecca McGavock, Warren Nybo, Jacqueline O'Bryant, Nancy Wheeley, Lisa Wright and Tracy Wright.
Performances Wednesday and Thursday, July 23-24 are at 7 p.m. in the Columbus Arts Council's Rosenzweig Arts Center Omnova Theater, 501 Main St., Columbus. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
Dinner performances Friday and Saturday, July 25-26 begin at 7 p.m. with a dinner of homemade casseroles and dishes provided by CCT cast and members, served in the arts center's main gallery. Tickets are $20 and must be reserved in advance.
A 2 p.m. afternoon performance takes place Saturday, July 26 ($10/$12).
For tickets or information, contact the Columbus Arts Council, 662-328-2787.
The SCT summer fundraiser might be described as "Broadway, with a twist."
"This is a musical smorgasbord featuring songs from classic Broadway hits and powerful numbers from newer and lesser-known shows -- all presented in an 'unexpected fashion,'" said revue director Pattye Archer.
The show's concept was created by Archer and collaborator Anthony Christian Daniel, a former SCT member currently working in New York City as an actor, with several national tours and many regional theater credits on his resume. The pair created a song list that blends the familiar with fresh tunes they hope will become new favorites.
John Brocato is participating in his fifth consecutive SCT revue.
"To me, what's great about it is that a lot of what's in it will be familiar to theater-goers -- but the way we're doing it is a little different; they'll see it in a slightly different way," he said. "We're excited to unleash on our audiences something you don't expect, wrapped around music you're familiar with."
The repertoire includes well-known numbers such as "Luck Be a Lady," "Matchmaker" and "New York, New York." But Archer thinks people will find themselves singing some of the lesser-known tunes after they leave, perhaps "It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish," from "Seesaw," and "On My Way" from the 2014 Tony-nominated revival of "Violet."
Haley Harper is the music director for this 16th annual revue. The cast also includes Joel Barron, Isa Stratton-Beaulieu, Forrest Blackbourn, Stacy Clark, Debbie Dunaway, Sean Dyess, M.J. Etua, Madeline Golden, Brian Hawkins, Mary Kate Hughes, Thomas La Foe, Kris Lee, Brenda Mayo, Heather McGinn, Tracey Millsaps, Erica Smith and LaShundra Townsend.
"Unexpected Songs" tickets
All performances are at 7:30 p.m. at the Playhouse on Main, 108 E. Main St., Starkville. Each is followed by a champagne and dessert reception. Tickets to the SCT fundraiser are $25.
For tickets or more information, call the Playhouse box office, 662-323-6855, or visit the box office Monday through Saturday, between 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
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Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.