The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


February 24, 2013

Ageless classics, comedies on tap at Cresson Lake Playhouse

JOHNSTOWN —  Cresson Lake Playhouse executive director Elaine Mastalski summed up the 2013 season in one word: Fabulous.

“We are extremely excited at this season’s lineup because it has some familiar titles as well as some new offerings,” Mastalski said.

Cresson Lake makes its home in a pre-Civil War barn, but with all the modern amenities. The lineup features seven productions throughout the year, four of which are included in its subscription series.

The community theater company opens its 39th season with its annual Children’s Theater Educational Festival.

The event, which runs April 28, May 2-3, May 5 and May 8-10, will give children the experience of a theatrical production coupled with an educational fair. It is for children ages 5 to 10.

The production is the Disney version of “The Little Mermaid.” Four of the performances are open to adults.

Children’s Theater tickets are $4 for children younger than 12 and $7 for adults for public performances. Admission for day performances for schools remains at $4 for students and $7 for adults. Teachers are admitted free.

The regular theater season opens May 23 with “The Fantasticks,” the longest-running production of any kind in the world.

“We first did this show in 1976,” Mastalski said. “This may be an oldie, but it’s certainly a goodie.

“At the heart of its breathtaking poetry and subtle theatrical sophistication is a purity and simplicity that transcends cultural barriers in this love story set to great music,” she said.

The result is a timeless fable of love that manages to be nostalgic and universal at the same time.

“It has classic hits such as ‘Try To Remember’ and a host of others,” Mastalski said.

The season continues with another musical classic, “Fiddler on the Roof,” which will open June 20.

In the little village of Anatevka, Tevye, a poor dairyman, tries to instill in his five daughters the traditions of his tight-knit Jewish community in the face of changing social mores and the growing anti-Semitism of czarist Russia.

“Fiddler on the Roof” has touched audiences around the world with its humor, warmth and honesty, Mastalski said.

“Some productions can feature minimal sets and few props,” Mastalski said. “But with others, we don’t want to leave the important parts to the imagination, so more elaborate sets are required.”

July 25 will be the opening of “Aida.”

“Elton John and Tim Rice have written a wonderful, contemporary musical take on a grand classic tale of the timeless bond between an enslaved Nubian princess and an Egyptian soldier,” Mastalski said. “This is the first time we have ever done this show, so it’s new territory for our actors and features great music.”

As forbidden love blossoms between the characters, the young lovers are forced to face death or part forever.

Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” will come to the stage on Aug. 29.

Christie comes through with another hit about strangers, one of whom is a murderer, stranded in a boarding house during a snowstorm.

The suspects include the newly married couple who run the house, and the suspicions that are in their minds nearly wreck their perfect marriage.

Cresson Lake’s fall production will feature another first – “Spamalot.”

“This production only was made available to theater companies in December, and we pounced on it,” Mastalski said.

It will debut Oct. 3.

The show is a spoof of the classic film comedy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Spamalot retells the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and features a bevy of beautiful showgirls, not to mention cows, killer rabbits and French people.

“It’s a little avant-garde for Cresson Lake, but Monty Python can be a little irreverent at times.”

The original 2005 Broadway production, directed by Mike Nichols, won three Tony Awards, including the Tony for Best Musical of the 2004–05 season. “Spamalot” received 14 Tony Award nominations.

Cresson Lake’s holiday production will be presented at Cambria County Courthouse as part of Ebensburg’s Dickens of a Christmas celebration.

Except for the children’s festival, all tickets are $17 for adults and $10 for children.

“We have held the line on prices for five years because we want to offer the community a great show at an affordable price,” Mastalski said. “We still offer a box of popcorn for only $1.”

Season tickets are available at $40 for students and $50 for adults and are available by calling 472-4333.

The subscription series includes productions of  “The Fantasticks,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Aida” and “The Mousetrap.”


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