West T.Hill hosts second annual play reading week


Ever wondered what Lughnasa is, or why you might dance at it? Thought about being a "steel magnolia"? Wanted to fly around the night sky on an eagle? For a little illumination on all these ideas, West T. Hill Community Theatre is hosting its second annual Play Reading Week, which opens 7 p.m. Monday at the theater on Larrimore Lane. The event continues Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Folks can come and go as they please, says managing director Karen L. Logue. There will be refreshments and a casual atmosphere as attendees read excerpts from a couple of plays each evening.

"This is a great opportunity for folks to get on stage without the pressure," says Logue. "We will plan some of our upcoming season around the plays that read well and impress our participants.

"This event was so successful last year - it took off well. We had good attendance and everyone seemed to have a grand time. People said they really liked it, and people who don't want to act came and read."


Children are welcome to attend the play readings, but Logue encourages kids to read the play synopses first to see what interests them. Friday's plays, The Secret Garden and Cheaper by the Dozen, include children in the casts.

Here is a schedule for the week:


"Steel Magnolias," by Robert Harling.

"This is a play that West T. Hill Community Theatre staged in the old Black Box Arena in the 1980s," says Logue. "We are re-visiting this play in anticipation of our celebratory 25th season.

"It is the wonderful story that was made into a successful movie and began Julia Roberts' film career. The play focuses on several very close friends living in the South and their comings and goings-on in Truvy's Beauty Shoppe. It's a poignant story of life, loss, incredible humor and the healing power of strong women and their relationships."

"Dancing at Lughnasa," by Brian Friel.

"(This play) was touted by Time magazine as the 'most elegant and rueful memory play since The Glass Menagerie,'" Logue notes. "The New York Post said it is 'simply a wondrous experience.'

"This extraordinary play is the story of five unmarried sisters eking out their lives in a small village in Ireland in 1936. We meet them at the time of the Festival of Lughnasa, and the action of the play is told through the memory of a son of one of the sisters, who is raised by them.


"Funny Valentines," by D.R. Anderson.

"This is simply a romantic comedy surrounding Andy Robbins, an author of children's books, his ex-wife who was his former collaborator, and a new love interest," says Logue. "His ex-wife's mother adds humor to the mix, and a typical Neil Simon-like comedy takes off for pure entertainment and delight."

"Here's Love"

The play is the musical version of "Miracle on 34th Street" and the book, lyrics and music are written by Meredith Willson of The Music Man Fame, Logue says.

"This is a joyous musical for the season about a Macy's Department Store Santa that will inspire a wave of holiday love and kindness that will teach us all yet again the true meaning of Christmas."


"Dark of the Moon," by Howard Richardson and William Berney.

"This play was an incredible Broadway and London hit on stage," Logue explains. "It is a powerful fantasy piece set in the Smoky Mountains. It is intimate, intense and strangely moving.

"A beautiful girl, Barbara Allen, becomes the object of affection for a young boy who just happens to be a witch. His antics and story have become a fearsome legend in American theater."

"To Kill a Mockingbird," dramatized by Christopher Sergel.

"This adaptation of Harper Lee's novel of violent events in a small Alabama town in 1935 has become a classic on the American Stage and film," Logue says. "The events that erupt in this play aren't far from any of our experiences. (Critics) have said that if you 'miss this play, you've missed something very important.'"


"The Secret Garden," adapted from the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett; book by Tim Kelly, lyrics and music by Bill Francoer.

"This musical piece is the story of orphaned Mary Lennox, sent to live with her uncle in the dark and dingy Misselthwaite Manor," Logue explains. "She befriends her cousin, Colin, who we find in a wheelchair and unable to walk. As she explores her new home she stumbles upon a magic garden and new friends who seem to have magic powers of love.

"Colin's world opens up, as does Mary's, as they come together in friendship and the power of love. The delightful and upbeat music softens this dark and sad story and leaves the audience with hope and joy in their hearts."

"Cheaper by the Dozen," dramatized by Christopher Sergel from the book by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.

"This timeless and classic family comedy is based on the very large Gilbreth Family," Logue says. "Set in the 1920s in New Jersey, this founded-on-fact play has been, over the years, one of the most performed stage productions across America. The story is currently experiencing modern success, as it has been yet again adapted to the big screen.

"Father is a stern and quirky patriarch, imposing his time-saving techniques on his very large family. The humor is genuine and delightful and the story has meaning and important values that haven't faded with age."

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