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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008 03:56 am

Fall theatre preview

Autumn is show time. Get your tickets.

The Pajama Game direct from Broadway, plays Sangamon Auditorium in November.

There is so much theatre happening in the area these days, there doesn't seem to be a spring/summer/fall/winter season anymore — it's just ongoing all year long, which is good.

Springfield Ballet Company always jump-starts the fall with its annual audience favorite, Rockballet, performing Sept. 6-7 at Sangamon Auditorium. For information, call 544-1967 or their website: www.springfieldballetco.org.

The opening show of Springfield Theatre Centre's 61st season (performed at the Hoogland Center for the Arts), is the dance musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, set in 1920s New York. Ed & Leigh Ann Smith direct the show, which runs Oct. 10-12 and 17-19. STC brings back the popular comedy Steel Magnolias Nov. 14-16 and 21-23, directed by Fred Wassell. Information at 523-ARTS or www.springfieldtheatrecentre.com. Auditions for the 19th-century comedy Our American Cousin will be held Sat., Oct. 11 at 1 p.m. at the Hoogland. Pam Brown directs the show, which will be performed in February during Lincoln's birthday festivities.

Hoogland Center for the Arts has a full schedule for the fall, beginning with its gala fundraiser production, Camelot, directed by Leigh Steiner (Sept. 12-21), featuring Kevin Purcell and Aasne Vigesaa as King Arthur and Guenevere. The hit musical show Pump Boys and Dinettes plays there Oct. 24-Nov. 2, featuring Doug Hahn, Gus Gordon, Jeff Prince, Mary Jo Curry and Lori Ann Mitts. A live radio drama takes the stage Oct. 30 with War of the Worlds, performed on the 70th anniversary of the famed Orson Welles radio broadcast. Call 523-2787 or online: www.scfta.org.

Direct from Africa: The Song and Dance Ensemble of West Africa performs at Sangamon Auditorium in November.

Sangamon Auditorium brings a Broadway musical review, Neil Berg's 100 Years of Broadway, for one performance, Oct. 4. Next is Compania Flamenco Jose Porcel, dance company from Spain, Oct. 16; An Evening with David Crosby and Graham Nash on Oct. 26; the famed Capitol Steps comedy troupe is there Oct. 31; The Song and Dance Ensemble of West Africa performs Nov. 7; and a touring company of the 1950s musical The Pajama Game plays Nov. 10. Call 206-6160 for tickets or see the website: www.SangamonAuditorium.org.

Jacksonville Theatre Guild premieres a new Ken Bradbury-Roger Wainwright musical, Camp Sunshine, playing at the Sophie Leschin Theatre Sept. 19-21 and 26-28. The comedy is set at a Bible camp in Arkansas. This is the fourth original musical from Bradbury and Wainwright (call 245-1402 or find info. at www.jaxtg.com. JTG brings the musical The Christmas Schooner to the stage Nov. 28-30 and Dec. 5-7.

I am rehearsing a new play at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Lincolnesque, which will play Oct. 2-4 and 9-11, featuring Tom Lawton, Ed MacMurdo, Patrick Russell, Mary Young and musician Roger Kimball. The comedy-drama is set in modern-day Washington during an election campaign. (Information at 558-8934 or www.presidentlincoln.org.

One of the must-see shows this fall is Caryl Churchill's fascinating Cloud 9, which plays at the Studio Theatre at UIS Nov. 7-9 and 13-15, directed by Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson. It is almost impossible to summarize this play: the first act takes place in 1880 Colonial Africa; Act II takes place in 1980 London (though the characters age only 25 years!). Cloud 9 is a roller-coaster-ride of a play (for both actors and audience) and auditions are Sept. 14-15. Find out more at www.uis.edu/theatre.

The Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan presents a hit off-Broadway show, Altar Boyz, a musical comedy about a Christian boy band, Oct. 23-26. And TV stars Cindy Williams and Eddie Mekka of "Laverne & Shirley" fame appear in a comedy It Had to Be You, running Nov. 6-16. (Call 728-7375 for tickets or online at www.thelittletheatre.org).

Phil Funkenbusch has written about theatre for Illinois Times for more than 10 years and has been involved in theatre most of his life. He can be reached at phildean@warpnet.net.

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