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Play House has diverse lineup
THEATER, BY HERB HAMMER
Play House has diverse lineup
Now that the Cleveland Play House is winding down the 2008-2009 theater season, the theater, as in past years, has announced the 2009-2010 lineup of plays. Here it is April, and the first play won't open for five months. There's nothing like getting subscribers interested early.
Hershey Felder will return following his sold-out, one-man show, "Gershwin Alone," performed during the 2007-2008 season. This time, he is performing "Beethoven as I Knew Him."
Mr. Felder's genius at the piano is expected to dwarf his narrative as he plays the part of the great composer and that of his friend Gerhard von Breuning. Meandering through a one-man biography can be very tricky. This time out, you just might want to listen to the music and forgive the narrative.
"Beethoven as I Knew Him" runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 4 at the Bolton.
"Inherit the Wind" follows at the Drury, opening Oct. 23 and playing through Nov. 15.
The play by Clevelanders Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee opened on Broadway in 1955. It is a fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial." John T. Scopes was on trial for teaching evolution to a high school science class. Tennessee law prohibited the teaching of anything but creationism.
A 1960 movie starring Spencer Tracy and Frederick March received critical acclaim. Spencer Tracy played Henry Drummond, who was fashioned from the original defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, while Frederick March played Matthew Harrison Brady, who, in the original trial, was presidential hopeful William Jennings Brian.
"Inherit the Wind," when performed properly, is a wonderful play but not intended to flesh out the Scopes trial. Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Lee were warning against McCarthyism, the great danger of the 1950s.
On Nov. 27, the Play House will do its annual production of "A Christmas Story." Based on the motion picture of the same name, the play tells the story of Alfie and his 1940s family and his longing for a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas. The play closely follows the movie and is a sheer delight. "A Christmas Story" closes at the Bolton on Dec. 20.
Those who have missed seeing a Neil Simon play on occasion will be pleased to find "Lost in Yonkers" on next season's play list.
Opening on Jan. 8, the play follows the early lives of two young boys raised by their eccentric relatives in 1942. "Lost in Yonkers" won a Pulitzer Prize and should not be missed. It runs through Jan. 31 at the Drury.
The 1978 Tony Award-winning musical "Ain't Misbehavin'" will play the Bolton from Jan. 29 through Feb. 21. The show showcases the music and humor of "Fats" Waller. The book is by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby Jr. The title is taken from a song written by Mr. Waller in 1929. A singer, songwriter and lovable stage personality, "Fats" Waller became an international star. The Play House production will present a five-member singing, dancing cast and is expected to be a good time for all.
"Emma," adapted by Play House artistic director Michael Bloom, will play the Drury from Feb. 28 through March 21. Adapted from Jane Austen's classic 1850 novel, "Emma," it is the story of Emma Woodhouse, the beautiful, rich woman of Regency, England. As Miss Austen was known for, "Emma" is filled with humor and romance. It will be interesting to see what Mr. Bloom has in store for us.
Finally, "Bill W. and Dr. Bob" will close the season, playing the Drury from April 9 through May 2.
The play by Stephan Bergman and Janet Surrey is set in Akron and tells the story of the 1935 beginnings of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Bill Wilson, trying to end his craving for alcohol, meets up with a surgeon named Bob Smith. Together, after trying desperately to save each other's lives, they founded an organization that has saved many lives the world over. "Bill W. and Dr. Bob" has received excellent reviews. The Play House production will be the Midwest premiere.
And that's it. The Play House will present a shortened season, but a good one, nonetheless. For season tickets, call (216) 795-7000.
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