By my count, there are four shows opening in Bloomington-Normal on Thursday, November 3rd, with another one bowing on November 4th.
Why in the world does everybody want to open a show on November 3rd? Maybe to get a decent number of performances in before Thanksgiving? Honestly, I don't get it. But it does mean that area theater-goers have a wealth of choices on November 3rd. And on the 4th, 5th and 6th, of course, as they try to pick up all the ones they didn't get to on the 3rd.
I'm partial to "Sirens" at Heartland Theatre, since I'm working on that show and I already know it's going to be a good one, since I've sat in on rehearsals. (You can read more about that here.) SIRENS features pretty much an all-star cast, with Todd Wineburner, Connie de Veer, Gwen de Veer and Andrew Rogalny, Jr. working together to tell the story of Sam and Rose Abrams, married for 25 years, but wondering whether their relationship is starting to sink. Gwen and Andrew play the the Sirens singing irresistible songs who pop up in their paths. It's funny and sweet and has some truths to tell, too. "Sirens" opens on... November 3rd, of course! And runs till the 20th. (I will be running interviews with the cast and possibly director Ron Emmons as the run wears on, so look for those in this space.)
Also on the all-important November 3rd, Community Players over on Robinhood Lane in Bloomington is opening the Catholic coming-of-age musical comedy, "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?" It, too, runs through the 20th. And Joel Shoemaker, who plays Felix (AKA The Filth Fiend) in the show, wrote about his "Black Patent Leather" experience and growing up in general for this blog a few days ago. You can read Joel's "Chronology" here.
The third show opening on that same night is at ISU's Westhoff Theatre, where Christopher Dea directs Christopher Durang's "The Marriage of Bette and Boo," a bouncy absurdist tragicomedy with a very different view of a boy's Catholic childhood than the one in "Black Patent Leather Shoes." You won't need to worry about whether to pick it for your choice on the 3rd, however, as that performance is sold out. If I've counted right, there are eight other performances with tickets available before "Bette and Boo" closes on November 12.
And our fourth possible choice on the 3rd is "Iolanthe," the Gilbert and Sullivan fairytale opera from Illinois Wesleyan's School of Music, directed by Robert Mangialardi, visiting professor of music and director of the opera theatre program at IWU, in Westbrook Auditorium at Presser Hall. Mangialardi directs a cast of 25, including Rachel Carreras and Cassandra Coglianese taking turns as Iolanthe and Suzanne E. Whitney and Holly Haines alternating as the Queen of the Fairies. As seems to be the pattern at IWU, the show runs for only four performances. The article linked here indicates that this is a free show, open to the public.
And just to complicate matters further, ISU has a second show going up on November 4th. "A Flea in Her Ear," the Feydeau farce directed by Don LaCasse, takes the stage at the Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, closing on the 12th just like "Bette and Boo."
Given that we're talking November, a rather serious month, it amuses me that all five of these are light and funny. Well, the Durang play has some decidedly dark stuff hiding under the jokes, and "Sirens" deals with some painfully funny truths, as well. And the nuns' rulers can hurt in "Black Patent Leather Shoes," too. I guess most comedy involves pain, when it comes right down to it.
Plus trying to schedule all of these shows in such a short amount of time is definitely painful!