STAGE NOTES: La Comedia Dinner Theatre presents ‘Grumpy Old Men’ and other arts news



Eat your heart out “Golden Bachelor” Gerry Turner. Dan Embree and David Shough are the top draws for senior matchmaking around this region as evidenced in La Comedia Dinner Theatre’s decent local premiere of “Grumpy Old Men: The Musical,” based on the 1993 film of the same name.

Embree (John Gustafson) and Shough (Max Goldman) are winningly cast as squabbling Minnesota neighbors-turned-romantic rivals spying on and vying for lovely, introspective Ariel Traux (an effervescent Karie-Lee Sutherland attractively costumed by Emercita Erb and Mattison Williams). Both men revel in the humorous disdain and biting insults that have hardened John and Max’s relationship since high school. They also share a strong connection with Sutherland, especially Embree who reveals John’s tender side to great effect.

Composer Neil Berg, lyricist Nick Meglin and librettist Dan Remmes’ mediocre storytelling contains subpar songs and bad jokes but there’s merit in the show’s underlying message of living life to the fullest. Director/choreographer Chris Beiser’s cohesive cast includes principals Charlie Goetz as Grandpa Gustafson, Mitch Holland as Jacob Goldman, Julie McNamara as Melanie Norton, John Dorney as Chuck Barrels, Dana Embree as Sandra Snyder, and Meghan Slowik as Punky Olander. Holland and McNamara are particularly relatable as devoted children torn between a desire for distance and caring for their aging parent.

Performances continue through Oct. 29. Tickets are priced at $39-$79. La Comedia Dinner Theatre is located at 765 W. Central Ave., Springboro. For tickets or more information, visit



‘Golden Girls’ stage show coming to Dayton in 2024

The national tour of “Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue” will be presented at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 7, 2024 at the Schuster Center courtesy of Dayton Live.

In this new stage show, Miami’s sassiest seniors are back for one more hurrah. The description: “We find Sophia out on bail after being busted by the DEA for running a drug ring for retirees. Blanche and Rose have founded CreakN, a thriving sex app for seniors. And Dorothy is trying to hold it all together with help from a new (much) younger sex-crazed love.”

The play is written by Robert Leleux, author of “The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy” and “The Living End.” His work has also appeared in The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine and his other plays have been produced across the country. The show is directed by Eric Swanson, who was the co-founder and executive director of The Detroit Actors’ Theatre Company.

The cast includes Ryan Bernier as Dorothy, Vince Kelley as Blanche, Adam Graber as Rose, Christopher Kamm as Sophia, and Jason Bowen as Stanley/Burt.

Tickets are priced at $33.50-$68.50 and can be purchased at A VIP photo experience add-on includes photos with the actors on the “Golden Girls” set after the show. For more information, visit



‘The Price is Right Live’ returns to Schuster Center in 2024

Come on down! “The Price is Right Live” will return to the Schuster Center at 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 3, 2024 courtesy of Dayton Live.

Featuring a Celebrity Host, this interactive stage show features randomly-selected contestants playing classic games such as Plinko and Cliffhangers with the chance to spin The Big Wheel and win a fabulous Showcase. Organizers say the show also features “an array of fantastic prizes, from appliances and electronics to dream vacations and even a brand-new car.” Lucky audience members can even win prizes right from their seat.

Tickets are priced at $41.50-$211.50. and can be purchased at Dayton Live previously presented “The Price is Right Live” in March 2022.

Broadway-bound ‘Wiz’ shines in Cleveland

The pre-Broadway tryout of “The Wiz,” crisscrossing the country before arriving on the Great White Way this spring, has eased on down to Cleveland with fun, relevant, joyful and vocally strong finesse.

Directed with humor, sass and precision by Dayton native Schele Williams, this “Wiz” boldly reclaims the musical’s original ownership as an unapologetic interpretation of the Black experience. For many years, the delightful material written by composer/lyricist Charlie Smalls and librettist William F. Brown was often produced through a multiethnic lens, but the sheer Blackness on display from alluring poppies with afros to Motown-inspired Emerald City glamour restores what we’ve always known: “The Wiz” is a Black show. Full stop.

Credit: Photo by Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo by Amelia Robinson

Outstanding principals include: knockout newcomer Nichelle Lewis as Dorothy, providing impressive Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston-esque vocals; Melody A. Betts as Evillene, taking “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News” to church!; the charming trio of Kyle Ramar Freeman as the flamboyant Lion, Philip Johnson Richardson as a believably vengeful Tinman, and playful Avery Wilson as Scarecrow; Alan Mingo Jr. as the sophisticated Wiz, and Deborah Cox’s elegant Glinda (her rendition of “Believe In Yourself” is simply beautiful).

In addition, Wright State University graduate and Academy Award winner Hannah Beachler’s striking Afrocentric set design captures the proper aesthetic. Academy Award-nominated costumer Sharen Davis (“Dreamgirls,” “Ray”) supplies an array of colorfully eye-catching costumes.

Performances continue through Oct. 22 inside Playhouse Square’s Connor Palace, 1501 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. Tickets are priced at $25-$115. For tickets or more information, visit



‘The Sound of (Black) Music’ impressively launches tour in Yellow Springs

“The Sound of (Black) Music,” which made its national tour debut Oct. 10-11 courtesy of the Foundry Theater at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, impressively reshaped and reimagined Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s iconic collaboration with a universal mindset.

Presented by New York-based Electric Root, this breezy, lively and emotional one-act concert paid respect to the original 1959 foundation while also filling the classic material with newfound depth and soulful joy. Cementing the score within an incredibly infectious blend of jazz, gospel, blues, funk and Afrobeat took each song to new heights of Black expression and introspection.

For example, “I Have Confidence” pulsated with Afrobeat energy, “The Lonely Goatherd” became a thrilling jazz duet, the fabulously poignant “Edelweiss” soared with gospel flair, and “Something Good” was spun into smooth R&B gold in a style recalling H.E.R. and India Arie. The pleasantly surprising musical arrangements also brought to mind such artists as Kirk Franklin, Brittany Howard, Billy Porter, Corinne Bailey Rae, Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse.

Terrifically proficient vocalists C. Anthony Bryant, Brianna Thomas, Charenee Wade, Alexis Lombre and Zhanna Reed cohesively charmed under the engaging co-direction of Shariffa Ali and Kamilah Long. Mathis Picard created the smart, savvy and spirited arrangements, which included dazzling four-part harmonies. Willerm Delisfort, a phenomenal pianist, was a chief component of a truly electrifying band, which was led by the aforementioned Wade who also served as musical director.

One of the best new works of 2023, “The Sound of (Black) Music” will undoubtedly draw younger, more diverse audiences, which is essential to ensuring future generations of theatergoers. It is also a refreshingly dynamic experience prepared to take the country by storm.

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