The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Features

February 24, 2013

On with the shows | Mountain Playhouse to stage musicals, farces, debut Neil Simon's playlets

JOHNSTOWN — Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown has announced its 2013 season.

Playhouse producer Teresa Stoughton Marafino had a few sleepless nights when she learned that a conflict may halt the production of the theater’s season opener.

However, the curtain will go up on the regular season with the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” on June 18-30.

“We learned that a revival was going to open on Broadway in April and may jeopardize our plans,” Marafino said. “In most cases like this, producers would pull the show from us.”

But because contracts had been signed only a month prior to the announcement of a Broadway production, the Jennerstown show will move forward.

Audiences will discover the four “Pump Boys” who sell high-octane fuel on Highway 57 in Grand Ole Opry country. The “Dinettes,” Prudie and Rhetta Cupp, run the Double Cupp diner next door.

Together they fashion an evening performing country western songs that received unanimous raves on Broadway and off.

Mountain Playhouse will have the distinction of being the first theater in the country to present “Neil Simon’s Comic Suites,” an arrangement of playlets taken from each of Neil Simon’s classic “Suite” plays.

It features segments of “Plaza Suite,” “California Suite” and “London Suite.”

The compilation is the work of Marafino, who read all three plays and selected the scenes to be produced.

Before one actor could set foot on stage, Marafino had to get permission from Simon to produce the comedy.

“In these poor economic times, people want to laugh; they need to laugh as an outlet,” Marafino said. “It was a six-month process to get permission from Mr. Simon, but he agreed because he liked the idea and the order of the scenes.”

The only stipulations were that Marafino could not claim ownership nor collect any royalties from the production.

“Squabbles,” an uproarious comedy about a bickering family, heats things up at the playhouse from July 23 to Aug. 4. The play tells a story of in-laws moving into their married children’s home. The production serves up one rollicking confrontation after another.

Marafino said that people who enjoyed the 2012 Mountain Playhouse hit production “Alone Together,” a story about grown children moving into their parents’ home, won’t want to miss the reverse situation in “Squabbles.”

“These plays strike a chord with many families who may face similar dilemmas,” Marafino said.

The hilarious farce, “Sin, Sex and the CIA” comes to the playhouse Aug. 6-18.

Huge oil reserves have been discovered in the Chagos Islands. OPEC is pressuring the Chagosians to join the cartel. A CIA agent and an undersecretary of state, whose life appears to be run by her libido, are sent to a CIA safe house in the mountains of Virginia to begin negotiations for the U.S. to place the Chagos Islands under its protection. Unfortunately, no one knows who the islands’ representative really is, and the audience is left to wonder how the CIA agent ever got the job.

“I’ve had to convince people that we picked this play long before the General Petraeus scandal,” Marafino said.

She was referring to an extramarital affair between then CIA director and retired four-star Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Army intelligence officer Paula Broadwell.

The actors of “Let’s Murder Marsha” will have the audience in stitches Sept. 17-29 as the misfit cast of characters get entangled in a giant web of misinterpretation and mystery thrillers.

This is a comedy of errors and misunderstandings, and it’s fast-paced and witty. The family-entertainment production shows the degree to which a fertile imagination can alter the perception of reality.

The season will end as the playhouse welcomes “Church Basement Ladies, A Second Helping” on

Oct. 1-10. The production is the sequel to the highly popular musical comedy “Church Basement Ladies.”

This time around, it’s 1969 and the world is changing. Folks are protesting the Vietnam War and women are demanding equal pay for equal work. In their small, rural Minnesota community, the women of the Lutheran church basement kitchen are dealing with changes of their own. From the elderly matriarch of the kitchen to the young mom-to-be, the women find strength in each other as they deal with the upheavals and joys from below the House of God.

“People will laugh until their sides hurt,” Marafino said.

Before the regular season begins, the playhouse will present a spring production of “Click, Clack, Moo,” the children’s story that finds the chickens and cows of Farmer Brown going on strike. The production is recommended for children from kindergarten through Grade 4 and runs from May 12-17.

Tickets are still available for the educational production presented by Theatreworks U.S.A.

Season subscriptions, passes and individual tickets are on sale.

“We have not raised our ticket prices since 2008,” Marafino said.

Subscription plans range from $70 to $145 per person.

A smaller pick-three pass, which is $80 for matinees and $91 for evening performances, offers a choice of three productions from the season and the limited engagement.

The flex pass, which ranges from $160 to $222, offers a choice of six admissions that can be used at any time and in any quantity throughout the season.

A three-admission youth flex pass for students ages 21 and younger is $30.

Information: 629-9201, option 1, or MountainPlayhouse.org.

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