Theatre Guild opens 2021-22 season with ‘Morning’s at Seven’

(left to right) David Williamson (Theodore Swanson), Dorothy Michalski (Cora Swanson), Tori Tuccillo (Aaronetta Gibbs), Charles Larkowski (David Crampton), Barbara Jorgensen (Esther Crampton), Richard Young (Carl Bolton), Jeff Sams (Homer Bolton), Cheryl Mellen (Ida Bolton) and Heather Atkinson (Myrtle Brown) in Dayton Theatre Guild's production of "Morning's at Seven." CONTRIBUTED
Caption
(left to right) David Williamson (Theodore Swanson), Dorothy Michalski (Cora Swanson), Tori Tuccillo (Aaronetta Gibbs), Charles Larkowski (David Crampton), Barbara Jorgensen (Esther Crampton), Richard Young (Carl Bolton), Jeff Sams (Homer Bolton), Cheryl Mellen (Ida Bolton) and Heather Atkinson (Myrtle Brown) in Dayton Theatre Guild's production of "Morning's at Seven." CONTRIBUTED

Credit: RICK FLYNN

Credit: RICK FLYNN

The Dayton Theatre Guild returns to live performance with an excellent season-opening production of Paul Osborn’s classic 1939 comedy “Morning’s at Seven,” a sweet, comforting 1920s story of dysfunction, fear, rivalries and regrets.

Heather Atkinson (Myrtle Brown) and Jeff Sams (Homer Bolton) in Dayton Theatre Guild's production of "Morning's at Seven." CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Heather Atkinson (Myrtle Brown) and Jeff Sams (Homer Bolton) in Dayton Theatre Guild's production of "Morning's at Seven." CONTRIBUTED

Credit: RICK FLYNN

Credit: RICK FLYNN

The ties that bind the most loving of families can often bruise, confuse, suffocate and torment. No one knows this better than socially awkward Homer Bolton (Jeff Sams), a shy, 40-something bachelor still living at home with his parents. As Homer determines a better path forward, especially regarding his relationship with longtime girlfriend Myrtle Brown (Heather Atkinson), he realizes his aunts and uncles, who happen to live nearby, even as close as next door, have troubles of their own. From past indiscretions to marital clashes, family wounds are exposed, highlighting the delicacy that comes with facing life’s crossroads.

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“Don’t you sometimes wish you could go back to a fork in the road and see where a different choice might have led you?”, said director Rick Flynn. “What would have been the ripple effect of that choice? Some of the characters in ‘Morning’s at Seven’ find themselves questioning the choices they may have accepted as ‘just the way it is.’ We do that in life sometimes until something so out of the ordinary happens that we stop blindly accepting the status quo.”

Scheduled last year but canceled due to the pandemic, this production, fluidly staged by Flynn and beautifully designed by Chris Harmon, features a uniformly strong cast. In addition to Sams’ terrifically fidgety, goofy and exasperated portrayal, endearingly contrasting Atkinson’s sunny optimism, praiseworthy performances extend to Barbara Jorgensen as Esther “Esty” Crampton (bringing heartfelt depth to Esty’s monologue about feeling a sense of freedom after a 55-year marriage), Charles Larkowski as Esty’s rigid husband David, Cheryl Mellen as Homer’s overbearing mother Ida, Dorothy Michalski as discontented Cora Swanson, delightfully easygoing David Williamson as Cora’s talkative husband Theodore, feisty Tori Tuccillo as nosey busybody Aaronetta “Arry” Gibbs (driving the young at heart spirit of Flynn’s directorial vision with spunk and mischievous interplay), and Richard Young as Homer’s hopelessly conflicted dad Carl.

“Maybe it’s ironic that this play was set to open here last year just a few days after everything got shut down,” Flynn said. “In some ways, we, the citizens of the world, got a chance to go back to the fork. We had time to examine the choices we made and see if they still worked for us. Some did. Some did not. As theater returns, and we sit in darkened spaces as a community sharing a common experience, we are reminded that no amount of social distancing can rob us of that common thread of humanity we all share. The choices we all make affect those around us in seen and unseen ways. That’s the power of the ripple effect.”

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“Morning’s at Seven” continues through Sept. 5 at the Guild, 430 Wayne Ave., Dayton. Act One: 50 minutes; Act Two: 65 minutes. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $14-$21. For tickets or more information, call 937-278-5993 or visit daytontheatreguild.org. Patrons are advised that masks are required inside the building.

‘IT’S ONLY A PLAY’ IN BEAVERCREEK

Beavercreek Community Theatre presents Terrence McNally’s 1982 comedy “It’s Only a Play” through Sept. 5.

Directed by Debra Kent, the play is set on the opening night of “The Golden Egg.” A lavish party thrown by wealthy producer Julia Budder is filled with a group of kooky Broadway insiders awaiting the reviews.

The cast includes Jim Walker as James Wicker, Melissa Ertsgaard as Julia, Matt Lindsay as Peter Austin, Lynn Vanderpool as Virginia Noyes, Brandon Shockney as Frank Finger, Saul Caplan as Ira Drew and Titus Unger as Gus P. Head.

Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Lofino Center, 3868 Dayton-Xenia Rd., Beavercreek. Tickets are $13-$16. Patrons are advised the show contains adult language and situations. Masks are required as well. For tickets or more information, call 937-429-4737 or visit bctheatre.org.

SINCLAIR ANNOUNCES FALL 2021 LINEUP

Sinclair Community College’s 2021-2022 season, dubbed “Emergence,” will consist of the fall productions of “She Kills Monsters” (Oct. 8-16, directed by Chris Harmon) and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (Dec. 2-5, directed by Gina Kleesattel). More titles will be announced at a later date.

CATCH ‘FOLLIES’ ON THE BIG SCREEN

The acclaimed 2017 London/National Theatre production of Stephen Sondheim’s rarely produced 1971 musical “Follies” will be shown Sunday, Sept. 12 at 3 p.m. at Cinemark Dayton South, 195 Mall Woods Dr., West Carrollton.

Featuring a book by Academy Award winner James Goldman (“The Lion in Winter”), the gorgeous, heartbreaking musical, a favorite of yours truly, concerns a reunion of the legendary Weismann Follies girls. While reminiscing, they are haunted by the choices and regrets of the past. The cast of 37 stars Academy Award nominee and four-time Olivier Award winner Imelda Staunton as Sally Durant Plummer, a housewife still infatuated with her former flame.

Sondheim’s marvelous, Tony-winning score includes “Beautiful Girls,” “Broadway Baby,” “The Road You Didn’t Take,” “I’m Still Here,” “Losing My Mind” and the ravishingly operatic “One More Kiss.”

Patrons are advised the show contains some strobe lighting. For tickets or more information, visit cinemark.com.

In related, rarely produced news, the University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory of Music will reportedly present Sondheim’s 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Sunday in the Park with George” in April 2022.

Contact this contributing writer at rflorence2@gmail.com.