Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer theater draws crowds in

Seats at two area communities theaters were nearly filled to the brim Sunday, proving that summer theater has been a hit in the area.

In a town that loves musicals, Manatee Players hosted its "High School Musical 2," presented by youth from its annual summer Broadway Boot Camp. Proud parents, friends and neighbors showed up in droves. A few hours later, it presented classic comedy sprinkled with music for An "Evening With Mark Twain," which nearly sold out the house.

Over in Sarasota, a large crowd showed up to watch a new work - the final run of "Hay Day," written by up-and-coming Sarasota playwright Jenny Beres. The show won last year's The Plays the Thing playwright contest at the Players.

For an original show about a stripper who is accidentally called to entertain/babysit an Alzheimer's patient, the performance was full of laughs, especially from Pam Wiley as Sally (the Alzheimer's patient) and Sage Hall as Trixie (the stripper). But the plot itself could use a bit more development, especially in the conclusion when the mood abruptly goes from sarcastic to contemplatively to heartfelt. Still, it was an entertaining piece of work filled with great dark comedy and, of course, a little song and dance.

Though it can be a gamble presenting new works by unknown playwrights in the middle of summer - and in a tough economy - it seems the Players has a formula that's working with the best of them.

- January Holmes

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