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Thursday, Sept. 8, 2005 09:37 am

Harvest time

Fall yields a bumper crop of theater

The local fall theater season promises everything from Greek drama to 1930s madcap comedy to recent Broadway musicals.

Cal Pritner, longtime faculty member of the Illinois State University Department of Theatre and founder of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, performs two one-man plays this weekend: Mark Twain: Unlearning Racism is presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, and Mark Twain: Traveling plays at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, in the Westhoff Theatre, on the ISU campus. The two performances show different sides of the complex Twain. For tickets, call 309-438-8783.

The Springfield Ballet Company's annual performance of Rockballetwill be unveiled at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Sangamon Auditorium. The show is a good way to introduce kids to the world of ballet, and this year's edition spotlights the music of Queen. Call 217-206-6160 for tickets.

The return of Ken Bradbury's play The Knollwood Talesis good news. Taken from taped interview transcripts with residents of Jacksonville's Knollwood Retirement Village, the play, which premiered this summer with a wonderful cast of area actors, was so funny and so powerful that I knew it had to have a longer life. The play will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16 and 17, at First Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville; and at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, at First Christian Church in Pittsfield. Call 217-243-6699 for more information.

Auditions will be held next week for Springfield Theatre Centre's production of the play A Few Good Men. Those familiar with the Tom Cruise film about murder in the military may not realize that the film was based on a hit Broadway play written by Aaron Sorkin (co-creator of TV's The West Wing). Mac Warren directs the production. Auditions will be held 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. The cast comprises 20 men and one woman. For audition information, e-mail Warren at The play will be performed Nov. 11-13 and 18-20.

Auditions for the fall UIS Theatre Department's production of Sophocles' Oedipus the Kingare held 7-10 p.m. Sunday and Monday, Sept. 18 and 19, in the Studio Theatre, located in the lower level of the Public Affairs Building. Director Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson may be reached at 217-206-6613. The production runs Nov. 4-6 and 11-13.

Heartland Theatre in Normal begins its new season this week with Michael Hollinger's comedy Tiny Island, playing Sept. 8-10, 15-18, and 22-24. The play is about two middle-aged sisters who meet at a dilapidated movie theater once owned by their parents. Heartland's season also includes a new play, A History of Things That Never Happened, by Bloomington native Sharmon J. Hilfinger. The play, which premiered in San Francisco, runs Oct. 13-16 and 20-23. And in November, Heartland offers William Nicholson's recent drama about a crumbling marriage, The Retreat from Moscow. Call 309-452-8709 for show information.

The 2005-2006 season of the Springfield Theatre Centre begins with a benefit production at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, the 1939 American comedy classic The Man Who Came to Dinner,by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. The large-cast show features Ron Seney in the title role, along with Cynda Wrightsman, Mary Young, Gus Gordon, Rick Dunham, Tom Shrewsbury, and many more. The show will have five performances, Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 22-25. For tickets, call 217-523-2787.

The musical Chicago makes another stop in Springfield with a one-night performance at Sangamon Auditorium on Tuesday, Sept. 27. This show, which is still playing on Broadway, continues to tour the country. The auditorium brings a touring company of Thoroughly Modern Millieto town on Oct. 31. For tickets, call 217-206-6160.

The musical Jekyll & Hyde, featuring Joshua Ratz in the title role, hits the stage of the Hoogland Center for the Arts Oct. 14-16 and 21-23. For tickets, call 217-523-2787.

Taking a look back at American drama, ISU's theater department begins its season with a production of Arthur Miller's 1947 drama All My Sons. Written before his Death of a Salesman, this play is another exploration of the relationship between father and son. All My Sonsruns Sept. 30-Oct. 8. For tickets, call 309-438-2535.

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