Theater groups roll out classic productions this month

Friday, February 9, 2007
Charles Davis checked his watch while rehearsing "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Rose Theatre on Wednesday. Davis plays a young collector who calls on Blanche DuBois, rear, played by Elisa Curtis. (Kit Doyle)

This month two theater groups in Cape Girardeau will present two plays to the public by well-known playwrights.

The theater presentations begin with the River City Players community theater group's production of the 1963 Tony-nominated Neil Simon comedy "Barefoot in the Park," which begins its run Feb. 16 at Port Cape Girardeau's River City Yacht Club. Southeast Missouri State University's Department of Theatre and Dance will open its production of the classic 1948 Pulitzer Prize-winning Tennessee Williams drama "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Feb. 23.

"Barefoot in the Park" is the first production of what the community theater group is calling a "revival" season this year, said director Rich Behring. The River City Players performed the comedy 17 years ago in the old Concord Theater.

"Because we've been in the community for quite a few years, I originally came up with the idea that we'd do some of our tried-and-true shows that we did in the past," Behring said. "When we chose the five shows for this year, three are what we are calling revivals, and 'Barefoot in the Park' is one of them."

Behring said he tried to bring back members from the original cast, but few were available. The only member from the production 17 years ago is Behring himself, who will act in a supporting role and direct. Holly Raines and Joe Reed will play the primary characters, the young couple Corie and Paul Bratter. Kathy Heckman will play the elderly Mrs. Banks, and Bryan Parker will play Victor Velasco.

Behring said he thinks the play will draw good audiences because River City Players patrons tend to enjoy comedies and Simon's name carries a lot of respect.

Southeast's production is also a revival of a past show -- the university put on a production of "Streetcar" around 1970. Dr. Rob Dillon is directing the production, which will feature university students performing some adult, dramatic roles.

"'Streetcar' is a play for mature audiences, about mature people who are struggling with issues of maturity," Dillon said. "But it's not a particular problem with this one, because these are some experienced actors."

Elisa Curtis will star as the tragic lead, Blanche DuBois. Stephen Fister will play Stanley Kowalski, Whitney Lamora will play Stella Kowalski and Cody Heuer will play Mitch, Blanche's would-be suitor.

Dillon said "Streetcar" is a high-profile piece of drama that stands the test of time.

"The reason to keep old plays alive is they're still good," Dillon said. "Things are not good because they're old, they're old because they're good."

The River City Players season will continue with "Driving Miss Daisy" in May, "Greater Tuna" in July, "I'm Not Rappaport" in September and close with the musical "Cabaret" in November.

Southeast will finish its season with an informal dance concert in March and the musical "42nd Street" to close the season in April.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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