Thursday, March 15, 2012

At Community Players, "Blithe Spirit" Ends, "Water" Rolls, "Hairspray" Cast

They are keeping busy over at Community Players, with all kinds of things happening.

First, their current production of the Noel Coward classic "Blithe Spirit" finishes up this weekend, with performances tonight, tomorrow and Saturday. Director Tom Smith will put his cast through their ghostly comedic paces three more times, including Thom Rakestraw as Charles, the man caught between his second wife, who is real, and his first wife, who is a ghost; Hannah Kerns as the bewitching Elvira, the ghost who won't go away, and Gayle Hesse as Ruth, the more practical new wife. Judy Stroh appears as Madame Arcati, the medium who starts the mess.

Next week, CP will already be launching their next show. This time, it's four one-acts by Robert Anderson, collected under the name "You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running." There's "The Shock of Recognition," directed by Dorothy Mundy, about a producer (Dave Krostal), a playwright (Gary Strunk) and an actor (Ben Hackett) hashing out the issue of on-stage nudity; "The Footsteps of Doves," directed by Brett Cottone, with Nancy Nickerson and Mark Robinson as a long-married couple shopping for twin beds; "I'll Be Home for Christmas," directed by Joel Shoemaker, with Dave Lemmon and Bridgette Richard as empty nesters awaiting the return of their grown kids for the holidays; and "I'm Herbert," directed by Sherry Bradshaw, involving an elderly couple (John Lieder and Kelly Peiffer) having trouble remembering who was who or what was what in the past. Because this is a "lab theatre" production, there are only four performances, opening with a 7:30 pm show on March 22 and ending with a 2;30 pm matinee on the 25th. Click here for details.

As if all that weren't keeping the joint jumping, they've also managed to hold auditions and cast their May production of "Hairspray," the bright and shiny musical version of the John Waters' movie about teens in Baltimore trying to integrate a TV musical show. You can't stop the beat, yo! Alan Wilson will be directing "Hairspray" for Community Players, with a large cast that includes Kelly Slater as bouncy big girl Tracy Turnblad, who just wants her chance in the spotlight; Scott Myers cross-dressing to play Tracy's mom, Edna, who gets a makeover, complete with hairspray and major bouffant; and Jeremy Pease as Link Larkin the love interest. "Hairspray" opens May 11 and plays through May 27, with tickets already available.

You can visit the Community Players website or call the box office at 309-663-2121.


  1. What a funny coincidence! I was just thinking the other day about "You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running." For a while it was a mainstay of regional and community theaters, and even seemed to be having a more secure afterlife than Anderson's "serious" plays like Tea & Sympathy or I Never Sang for My Father. But I realized I hadn't heard of a production in many a year, and maybe it had reached its time limit, as comedy can. (I wondered, for instance, if the emergence of nudity onstage as a viable, though not commonplace, option had made the first of these plays seem pointless.)

    So I'm delighted to find that it's being done! Hurray for Community Players!

  2. They've cast each play separately, however, which was not the norm originally, right? I thought the same actors played roles in all four.

    I, too, remember it as a mainstay at community theaters. Pretty sure they did it at Pheasant Run when I worked there, with some visiting TV "star." Can't remember what William Shatner was in, but Bill Daily did "Under the Yum Yum Tree" and Sally Struthers was in... Nope. Can't recall. So maybe this was William Shatner turf.

  3. I just had to look it up, though I remembered Martin Balsam was in it (he played the actor who finally went for the nudity in the first play -- offstage). Also George Grizzard and Melinda Dillon (reunited after Virginia Woolf! and with the same director, Alan Schneider), Eileen Heckart, and (in the first play only) Joe Silver. Nobody was in all four, but several were in three of the four. Heckart's standby was Frances Sternhagen!

    It makes sense for a community theater to cast them all separately, though. It gives more actors a chance, and unlike the Neil Simon "suite" plays, there's no thematic connection among them.