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Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2007 12:03 pm

Pirates, Angels, and Miss Daisy

Fall offers a rich lineup of plays and musicals

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Rex Smith from Pirates of Penzance
Untitled Document The fall theater season has much to offer. Here is just some of what will be happening on area stages.
The season starts off in a big way Sept. 21-23 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, when The Pirates of Penzance, featuring recording artist and Broadway actor Rex Smith as the Pirate King, takes the stage. Smith played Frederic in the acclaimed 1980 New York production featuring Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt. Pirates, directed by Gus Gordon and Doug Hahn, will be staged concert-style, with choreography by Gary Shull and Grace Nanavati. For tickets, call 217-523-2787.
The Jacksonville Theatre Guild has Disney’s High School Musical, directed by Eric A. Thomas, Sept. 26-30 at the Sophie Leschin Theatre. Scott Richardson was the first in the area with his sellout weekend of shows last winter on the University of Illinois at Springfield campus, in the Sangamon Auditorium, but this show will probably be produced by many more theaters in the near future. For tickets, call 217-254-1402. A touring company of the hit musical Hairspray makes a stop at the Sangamon Auditorium at 7 p.m. Sept. 30. Defending the Caveman plays there Oct. 5 and 6. Other shows in the fall lineup include Marvin Hamlisch in concert on Sept. 14, the amazing Georgian State Dance Company on Oct. 3, the Cashore Marionettes on Oct. 12, Stomp on Oct. 23, and another fantastic dance company, Diavolo, on Nov. 9. For tickets, call 217-206-6160. The Springfield Theatre Centre opens its season with The Spitfire Grill, featuring Pat Pennington and Molly Mathewson. Don Russell directs the production, which runs Oct. 5-7 and 12-14. Russell directed this wonderful musical at Theatre in the Park a few years ago. For tickets, call 217-523-2787. The cast of last spring’s The Last of Mrs. Lincoln is back for three performances of the show in the Union Theatre at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Oct. 19-21. For information, call 217-558-8934. Country & western musical The Honky Tonk Angels is presented Oct. 18-21 and 25-28 at the Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan. This show has been playing around the country, but the Sullivan production will be the first in the area. For tickets, call 888-261-9675. The teen theater troupe Active and Creative Teen Theatre will perform what will be the fun show of the fall season: Return to the Forbidden Planet, a sci-fi version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Performances at the Hoogland Center for the Arts take place Oct. 26-28 and Nov. 2-4. For tickets, call 217-523-2787. One of Illinois’ best stage directors, Randi Jennifer Collins Hard, stages To Kill a Mockingbird at the Parkland College Theatre, in Champaign, Sept. 26 and 28-30 and Oct. 4-6. This should be one of the must-see shows of the season. For tickets, call 217-351-2528. Local theater group ADHD Productions offers a new comedy, The Armageddon Dance Party, Oct. 12 and 13 in the Club Room at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. (This is the group that staged Danger: Adult Content earlier this year.) Call 217-523-2787. William Inge’s American classic ’50s play Picnic will be staged by Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson in the Studio Theatre at UIS Oct. 26-28 and Nov. 1-3.
The Roxy Group is back with its musical-comedy revue Halloween Dreams, Oct. 26-28 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. This variety show, featuring humorous songs, is always fun. Call 217-523-2787. A comedy titled Bull in a China Shop will be performed at the Beardstown Opera House Oct. 26-28. The historic opera house is located at 123 State St. Call 217-323-5476. A touring production of Rent plays the Fox Theatre in St. Louis Oct. 19-21; it’s followed by the hit Broadway musical The Drowsy Chaperone Oct. 30-Nov. 11. For tickets, call 314-534-1111.
The Celebration Company at the Station Theatre in Urbana always offers new, innovative works, and this fall the company offers Iron Kisses, running Sept. 13-16, 19-23, and 26-29, and the Tony Award-winning drama Rabbit Hole, Oct. 25-28 and 31 and Nov. 1-4 and 7-10. Call 217-384-4000. Not to be missed: The Pulitzer Prize-winning play Driving Miss Daisy will be staged by Ron Seney at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in a Springfield Theatre Centre production running Nov. 9-11 and 16-18. Auditions will take place at the center 7-9 p.m. Oct. 1 and 2. Call 217-523-2787.
Decatur’s Theatre 7 stages the 1962 hit musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum Nov. 2-4 and 9-11 at the Decatur Civic Center Theater. For tickets, call 217-422-6161. Springfield senior-citizens performing group the Mature Mob presents Remembering the Harvest Moon Ball at the Hoogland Nov. 8-11. Call 217-523-2787. One of the most interesting recent American plays is Sara Rule’s Passion Play: A Cycle, which is being performed at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago through Oct. 21. The drama examines the staging of Passion plays in three different eras: Elizabethan England, pre-World War II Germany, and Reagan-era South Dakota. For tickets, call 312-443-3800.
Director/writer/actor Phil Funkenbusch is a regular contributor.
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