The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Features

January 18, 2014

Mountain Playhouse will begin 75th season with children's show

JENNERSTOWN — Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown will celebrate its 75th season this year.

This anniversary year will bring musicals and a farce,  drama and comedy to playhouse audiences.

Before the official season begins, the playhouse’s youngest audience members will receive a treat.

Champion for schools

For the past 12 years, the playhouse has been a valued partner of regional school districts with its annual educational theater productions for elementary students.  

The elementary program “Junie B. Jones” will be performed by Theatreworks USA at 10 a.m. and noon May 12–16.

The musical is based on a series of books about an adventurous first-grader, and will be open to area schoolchildren and the public.

“We weren’t able to get Theatreworks for Mother’s Day this year,” said playhouse executive producer Teresa Stoughton Marafino.

“Some schools have had their reservations since last year. We get about 2,000 kids.”

Regular season

The jukebox musical “The Marvelous Wonderettes” by Roger Bean will kick off the regular playhouse season June 17–29.

The audience will be taken to the 1958 Springfield High School prom, where four girls learn about love as they perform classic hits such as “Lollipop,” “Stupid Cupid” and “It’s My Party.”

“If you loved ‘Forever Plaid,’ ‘Suds’ or ‘The Taffetas,’ you’ll like this. It’s delightful,” Marafino said.

The large-cast musical will return to the playhouse with the production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which will be presented July 8–20.

With lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the musical features songs such as “Any Dream Will Do” and “Go, Go, Go Joseph.”

“We’ve had people asking, so we wanted to make the effort to have a large-cast musical,” Marafino said.

‘Manageable’ musical

“ ‘Joseph,’ which should have 14 to 15 in the cast, will be manageable for us. The actors also will be musicians, which we’ve done with our country musicals. This will be more of an ensemble.”

In the farce “Funny Money” by Ray Cooney, which will be performed July 22 through Aug. 3, a mild-mannered CPA picks up the wrong briefcase, which is filled with possibly stolen money.

Chaos ensues when he decides to keep it for himself.

“For our 75th anniversary, we wanted one of the strongest, funniest farces he ever wrote,” Marafino said.

“Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie,” written by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom, will bring drama to the playhouse Aug. 5–17.

“This is the play version, which is based on Albom’s book, which was a huge success,” Marafino said.

“The two actors who play Mitch and his former professor are both onstage the whole time. It’s what we call a two- hander in the theater.”

Sealing the deal

What sealed the deal for Marafino was the fact that the professor dies of Lou Gehrig’s disease, the same disease that took her father’s life.

“This will be in honor of my father,” she added.

The comedy “Driving Miss Daisy” by Alfred Uhry will pull up to the playhouse Sept. 16–28.

There are three characters in the play – Miss Daisy, her son and her chauffeur.

“This originally was a movie and is well-known,” Marafino said.

“It’s highly entertaining and a solid play. I originally saw it off-Broadway and couldn’t believe how funny and insightful it was. It hits on a lot of topics. I’m curious as to who we will cast as the indomitable Miss Daisy.”

Focus on the change

The musical comedy “Midlife! The Crisis Musical,” written by Bob and Jim Walton, will end the 75th anniversary season Sept. 30 through Oct. 12.

Like “Menopause the Musical,” this production will focus on the change of life, but from both men’s and women’s viewpoints.

The cast will feature three men and three women who will portray different characters in various vignettes.

“There will be mention of losing hair and gaining potbellies,” Marafino said.

“It’s hilarious.”

Another new change this year will be a $10 charge for youth and students for all shows, rather than only nonmusicals.

Groups with a minimum of 10 guests qualify for discounts for theater and dining packages with Green Gables Restaurant.

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