backstage pass 5-26-05
I’m playing town crier this week for the comedy Rounding Third, which finishes a two-weekend run at the Hoogland Center for the Arts this Friday and Saturday, May 27 and 28. It’s the first production of the just-formed ADHD Productions, and local actors Jason Goodreau and Mac Warren are performing this must-see play by Richard Dresser. Both give strong performances as dads who coach Little League.
Dresser’s play premiered in Chicago in 2002 and ran off-Broadway in New York in 2003. It has been an audience favorite, and I can see why. The comedy captures exactly the way things happen in the world of Little League, and I guarantee that everyone will identify in some way. It’s one of the best plays produced here in recent memory, and I hope that the theater will be filled this weekend.
Goodreau and Warren take what could be caricature roles and make them true, real people whom the audience roots for. As written, the characters are an odd couple (a formula that’s been seen time and time again) and in the wrong hands could be played too broadly, too over-the-top. These local actors mined the script and came up with gold. Don, the character played by Warren, lives for the game and has most of the funny lines — “Hey, Philip, no curve balls, or you’ll find yourself in the spring musical!” And Goodreau has a face that registers a wide range of comic expressions.
A different local band performs before each show; on opening night, it was the Black Ops, featuring energetic percussionist Ted Keylon. The show starts at exactly 7:03 p.m. Don’t miss Rounding Third — it’s the best show in town. Tickets are $7; call 217-523-2787.
Theatre in the Park’s summer season kicks off this weekend with a special musical concert in the outdoor amphitheater at New Salem by the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, May 27 and 28. I was in the audience for the show last year, which sold out by curtain time, and it was just the right start to summer music and theater performances, with a great mix of patriotic music, marches, and light fare.
Next weekend, Theater in the Park will be presenting a free preview show, June 3 and 4, a musical revue featuring performers, songs, and scenes from its upcoming lineup of musicals, including Paint Your Wagon, Guys & Dolls Jr., Little Shop of Horrors, and Pippin. For ticket information, call 217-632-5440.
The sixth annual Cemetery Walk, one of the region’s most interesting outdoor theatrical events, takes place Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29, at the Rushville City Cemetery. Actors portray characters from Rushville’s past, including Mary Hobart, one of the town’s first settlers; James McCreery, an Irish immigrant who came to Rushville in 1827; Mary Agnes Scripps Bagby, the wife of a friend of Abraham Lincoln’s; and Alexander Campbell, who built Rushville’s first hotel. Musicians playing the violin, harmonica, and guitar will be on hand to add to the atmosphere. The event begins at 1 p.m.; the last tour starts at 3:30 p.m. Call 217-322-3689 or 217-322-2066 for more information.