Hot Country Nights plays at Jubilee Theatre

Don Grant Zellmer’s newest production, a review of familiar country western music, showcases Debbi Torri as “Rhinestone Cowgirl.” Torn and Zellmer, longtime friends with a history of shows that goes back 20 years, reunite on the Clock Tower stage to entertain lovers of country music and those who enjoy a fast-moving evening of fun. Torri’s glittering wardrobe enhances her image, and years of experience give her the ability to deliver a song in the energetic style of Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Dolly Parton. Every opening lyric evoked applause from the house. Newcomer Jacob Bailey begins a career in musical theater with the aplomb of a seasoned actor. A recent graduate of East High School, he joins Zellmer and Scott Chachula in a series of song and dance routines. Catherine Bozzi and Kim Bigler have become a permanent part of Jubilee Theatre, contributing several lively dance numbers. Saturday’s audience obviously loves country music, and a group of line dancers became a part of the show in Act II. Effectively interacting with theater-goers make the evening more memorable. The cast appears in the lobby at intermission and after the final curtain to greet everyone. Hot Country Nights, Zellmer’s third production at the Clock Tower, moves the company to another level. His Saturday Children’s Show, “Terror in the Aisles,” opens Saturday, Oct. 4, just In time for Halloween, with Holidazzle coming up for the holidays. Playing at Starved Rock Lodge this past summer to a wider audience, Zellmer continues to generate interest in his projects. Running until Nov. 1, tickets for Hot Country Nights are available by calling the box office. See accompanying ad. Noises Off opens NAT’s season Originally staged at NAT in 1989, Noises Off examines the foibles and misadventures of an English theater company on the road. Moving from action on stage to back-stage chaos, it reminds one of comedies of the past. The set consists of a country home that reverses to become the stairs and entrances of Nothing On. Fated for disaster, the complicated plot gives Lloyd, the director (Erik R. Uppling) moments of sheer hysteria. Steven Young, interim director at NAT, works well with David Kortemeier, a native of Freeport with 28 years of experience, and Laura Wells, a veteran of Chicago theater. Timing and movement are the essence of comedy, and in Noises Off, this aspect of the show worked well. Familiar faces and old friends complete the cast…Nicky Bertolino (Tim), David A. Gingerich (Garry), Jim Radloff (Selsdon), Makeesha Sharp (Poppy), Christine Swan (Brooke), and Kathy Stevens (Belinda) effectively make impossibly difficult entrances and exits, managing to deliver lines and work with props that constantly disappear. Steven Young, the staff, and board of NAT face many challenges. Stuart Cohn, the new president of the NAT Board, wrote an upbeat comment in the program. Looking to the future, he asks for the support of the community. Audience development in this economy continues to plague theaters throughout the country. Diversity may be an answer. Dependence on those supporting the theater in the past may give a base, but newcomers and a younger audience need to be cultivated. The Diary of Anne Frank, a classic memoir at Pec Playhouse Anne Frank’s story is one of a typical teen-ager in a most unusual situation. The tale gives a human face to the terror of Hitler’s decimation of European Jews. It forces us to acknowledge man’s ability to commit acts of unbelievable cruelty. Pec Playhouse continues to expand its season, presenting a varied program that appeals to local audiences and draws those from surrounding communities. Pec’s strength lies in the participation of entire families who act, build sets, and assume administrative responsibilities. Michael Dice directs the current production, previously directing A Christmas Carol and On Golden Pond, starring two of my favorites, joan e. kole and Joe Vaughn, A Walk in the Woods, and The Glass Menagerie. Vaughn plays Mr. Frank, Lise Lind, his wife, and Nina Giannageli, the “good” sister, Margot. Eli Pauley is Anne, a feisty teen-ager whose antics and outspoken behavior bring life to the prison-like attic. Brant Cox is Peter Van Daan. Though he is withdrawn and shy, Anne manages to enliven his dull existence. We know from the beginning the tragic end, but every day of life is a treasure. Playing through Oct. 5, tickets may be obtained by calling 239-1700.

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