Artists’ Ensemble gears up for 2006-07 season

Hapless and hilarious lovers, a befuddled Bertie Wooster, a beloved professor named Morrie, a tough guy named Frank, and a hard-boiled dame named Maggie all take the spotlight in Artists’ Ensemble’s (AE) third season of professional Equity theater in residence at Rockford College.

Following is AE’s schedule for the 2006-2007 season:

Sept. 8-17: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change—Music by Jimmy Roberts and book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro

This riotous, long-running musical smash about the rocky pitfalls of love and marriage kicks off the AE season with a limited run. The award-winning book and lyrics are by Joe DiPietro, the playwright of Over the River and Through the Woods (a sold-out hit in AE’s fist season). This wonderfully witty show was hailed by critics as “Seinfeld set to music!” and is AE’s first musical.

Dec. 1-17: Jeeves and the Greensleeves Disaster—Adapted for the stage by Margaret Raether

Bertie Wooster, a jolly sport and member-in-good-standing of the idle rich, gets himself into perfectly dreadful situations. Fortunately for Bertie, his manservant, the unflappable Jeeves, is there to save the day. Jeeves and the Greensleeves Disaster is based on P.G. Wodehouse’s beloved characters. In the play, Bertie’s attempts to help out his pal, Eustace Bassington-Bassington, plunge him into hot water during the holidays. Fortunately, Jeeves has a plan…Jeeves will feature AE favorite David Gingerich.

March 16-April 1, 2007: Tuesdays with Morrie—By Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom

Rod MacDonald plays Morrie, a retired sociology professor who still has a few lessons to teach his former student, Mitch, in the stage adaptation of Mitch Albom’s book, Tuesdays With Morrie, which topped the New York Times best-seller list for 205 weeks. A life-affirming play based on a true story, filled with laughter and tears, Morrie showcases the talents of one of the region’s finest performers.

May 11-27, 2007: Red Herring—By Michael Hollinger

It is 1952. Maggie is a homicide cop after a killer in Boston. She has no time for romance. But that doesn’t discourage Frank, a G-Man on the trail of a spy ring. Add complications that involve the confused daughter of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and atomic secrets hidden inside a box of Velveeta, plus Steve Vrtol as a Russian spy who is crazy about Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals and Linda Abronski as his amorous landlady, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for laughter.

AE’s third season is composed entirely of regional premieres, plus AE’s first musical and first original script.

“This is our season of laughter,” said AE Artistic Director Richard Raether. “We want to continue to build on the reputation we’ve established in our first two season, as a place where audiences view fascinating stories and terrific acting. But there is a definite celebratory feel to season three.”

Auditions for the upcoming season will be Monday, May 15, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and again Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Audition appointments may be made by calling the Rockford College box office, 226-4100 weekdays.

Artists’ Ensemble performs Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. AE works under an agreement with Actors’ Equity Association, the union for professional actors and stage managers. All plays are performed in the Clark Arts Center on the campus of Rockford College.

Subscriptions for AE’s third season are on sale for $80, $75 for seniors and $40 for students. Subscribers save $20 over single ticket prices for the season. Plus, since AE shows tend to sell out, being a subscriber is the only way to guarantee a seat.

Info: Richard Raether, artistic director, 540-4717; John Cobb, AE president, 877-7952; or Ken Staaf, AE marketing, 877-0022.

From the May 10-16, 2006, issue

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