Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Two Plays and the Big Musical ‘Mary Poppins’ Are Slated in Manitowoc

The Masquers 1819 season image_1535456091068.jpg.jpg

The Masquers, Inc. has its productions in place for its 88th season. Info: themasquers.org.

Performances are in the 1,134-seat West Auditorium of Capitol Civic Centre. Each production has three performances.

The season includes two familiar titles and one, perhaps, surprise. According to the website (with additions):

The season

+ “It’s a Wonderful Life,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8, 9, 10.

Adapted for the stage by James W. Rodgers from the famous 1946 movie by Frank Capra based on the story by Peter Van Doren Stern.

The story is the saga of George Bailey, the Everyman from the small town of Bedford Falls.

George’s dreams of escape and adventure have been quashed by family obligation and civic duty.

George’s guardian angel has to descend on Christmas Eve to save him from despair and to remind him that his has been, after all, a wonderful life.

The faithful adaptation has the familiar characters: George Bailey and Mary Hatch (his girlfriend/wife), Clarence (the angel), (forgetful) Uncle Billy, Violet Bick (a temptress) and, the miserly villain, Mr. Potter.

Like the Frank Capra movie, this dramatization celebrates the faith of the season and the American philosophy of life: that hard work, fair play and the love and support of one’s family and community will be rewarded.

Directing is Ellen Peronto, who has directed several productions of The Masquers, Inc., most recently “Heaven Can Wait” earlier this year. 

+ “Sex Please, We’re Sixty! An American Farce,” 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21, 22, 23.

By Michael Parker and Susan Parker.

Mrs. Stancliffe’s Rose Cottage Bed & Breakfast has been successful for many years. Her Guests (nearly all women) return year after year.

Her next-door neighbor, the elderly, silver-tongued Bud (“Bud the Stud”) Davis believes the women come to spend time with him in romantic liaisons. The prim and proper Mrs. Stancliffe steadfastly denies this, but really doesn’t do anything to prevent it because “Bud the Stud” is good for business.

Mrs. Stancliffe’s other neighbor and would-be suitor Henry Mitchell is a retired chemist who has developed a blue pill called “Venusia,” after Venus the goddess of love, to increase the libido of menopausal women. The pill has not been tested.

The guest list includes three older women: Victoria Ambrose, a romance novelist whose personal life seems to be lacking in romance; Hillary Hudson, a friend of Henry’s who has agreed to test the Venusia; and Charmaine Beauregard, a “Southern belle” whose libido does not need to be increased.

Bud gets his hands on some of the Venusia pills, and the fun begins as he attempts to entertain all three women. The women mix up Bud’s Viagra pills with the Venusia, with the effect on men being it gives them all the symptoms of menopausal women, complete with hot flashes, mood swings, weeping and irritability.

When the mayhem settles down, all the women find their lives moving in new and surprising directions.

Here is the opening of my review of a production in 2017 by Calumet County Community Theatre: Many community theaters would be afraid to put on “Sex Please, We’re Sixty: An American Farce.” Backlash. But people can read. The title says it all: The play is about what it says it is… for adults… and make-believe. That “farce” subtitle also implies the play is quirky-funny, and it is. Quite so.

+ “Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins,” 7:30 p.m. May 9, 10, 11; 2 p.m. May 12.

Based on the books by P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney film with adaptation by Cameron Mackintosh,” producer of such international hits as “Cats,” “Miss Saigon” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” The book is by Jillian Fellowes, with music and lyrics by brothers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.

On Broadway and London’s West End, this show ran lengthy runs and received nominations for nine Olivier and seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

In the story a jack-of-all trades, Bert, introduces the audience to England in 1910 and the troubled Banks family. Young Jane and Michael have sent many a nanny packing before Mary Poppins arrives on their doorstep.

Using a combination of magic and common sense, Mary Poppins must teach the family members how to value each other again.

Mary Poppins takes the children on magical and memorable adventures.

Jane and Michael aren’t the only ones upon whom she has a profound effect. Grown-ups can learn a lesson or two from the nanny who advises, “Anything can happen if you let it.”

Songs include “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” 

Contact me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays.

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