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Barnstormers Theatre plans exciting 60th season

EDITH DECKER/Daily Courier
Tricia Drevets, the interim director of the Barnstormers Theatre, has great expectations for the 60th season.

By Edith Decker of the Daily Courier

EDITH DECKER/Daily Courier
Tricia Drevets, the interim director of the Barnstormers Theatre, has great expectations for the 60th season.
The Barnstormers Theatre company will celebrate its 60th anniversary this fall. It's the oldest continuously running community theater in the state.

And the 60th anniversary season has longtime Barnstormers impressed. (See box for information on ordering tickets.)

"We have some new things, which is exciting, but we have a really well-balanced season," says Tricia Drevets, longtime actress, director and acting teacher at the Barnstormers. She's filling in as the company manager.

The seven-play season includes three American classics, "Our Town," by Thornton Wilder, which Barnstormers has never performed, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" by Tennessee Williams and "Play It Again, Sam" by Woody Allen. The musical about women of a certain age by Kander and Ebb, "70, Girls, 70" is back by popular demand after a huge success on the stage in 2006. And the romance "Almost, Maine" will lead off the season. It's already in rehearsal with Michele Kyle directing.

But most intriguing are two world premieres that the Barnstormers lined up for this anniversary season.

"The Angel Capone" had an original premiere in Toronto, Canada, several years ago. Since then, its author, Ashland playwright David Copelin, has revised the play considerably, says Drevets.

The new version will be directed by Russell Lloyd, another veteran Barnstormer who's acting professionally at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland these days. Set in the 1920s, Drevets says "It's funny and quirky and deals with theater — and gangsters."

Finishing the season will be "Tomatoes," a comedy both written and directed by Diane Nichols, who acted in "Steel Magnolias" and "A Delicate Balance." The play has had readings in Ashland, which allowed Nichols to revise. "And this is its debut on stage. It's a very sweet, warm and funny play," Drevets says, noting it's about a family living in an unusual situation with three generations under one roof.
"This is new for us. It's the first time Barnstormers has done any premiere and here we have two in one season. And we're really excited about it," Drevets says, noting she hopes the decision brings some freshness to the company.

Purchasing a season ticket is a great deal, making tickets $12.85 rather than $15 each. It's also a chance to support local theater. The Barnstormers have always been, and continue to be, a volunteer, nonprofit organization.

Lloyd, who will direct not only "Capone" but "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," notes: "Something I was thinking a while back made me realize that a community without a theater — or some performance art venue — is like sitting in a library with empty book shelves."

Lloyd recalls his first role was playing the lead in "Eat Your Heart Out" in 1983 on the Barnstormers stage. While he's worked in other theaters — once opening his own small theater for a time in Grants Pass — he's always come back to help at Barnstormers.

"The strong desire to do higher quality theater and more diverse plays, including musicals" has kept the theater going, he says.

Another long-time theater volunteer is Burt Eikleberry, who currently organizes the "Imagine" series where theater people can read a favorite scene or new playwrights can try a scene out.

Eikleberry says he was first cast as George in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" directed by Caroline Berkman in 1990, calling it "the part of a lifetime." He still counts it among his best roles, along with Drummond in "Inherit the Wind" in 1998. Also in 1990, this retired teacher directed his first play for Barnstormers, "The Children's Hour," with a cast including one of the theater's founders, Mildred Watt.

"The love of theater has kept it going — certainly not any kind of monetary reward," Eikleberry says of the company. "There are so many volunteers behind the scenes."

Barnstormers schedule

Season tickets are now available for the 60th anniversary season for the Barnstormers Theatre. They are $90 for all seven plays and available from the box office or by mail only. Call 541-479-3557 ext. 2, and leave a message. The staff will mail a season subscription form. Or download the form from the website, barnstormersgp.org.

Subscribers may choose the dates they prefer and exchanges can be made with enough notice. Shows run on weekends at the theater, 112 N.E. Evelyn Ave.

Here's the season:

• Sept. 7 to 23, "Almost, Maine" by John Cariani

• Oct. 19 to Nov. 4, the world premiere of "The Angel Capone" by David Copelin

• Dec. 7 to 23, "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder

• Jan. 25 to Feb. 10, 2013, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" by Tennessee Williams

• March 8 to 31, the musical "70, Girls, 70" by John Kander and Fred Ebb

• May 3 to 19, "Play it Again, Sam" by Woody Allen

• June 14 to 30, the world premiere of "Tomatoes," by Diane Nichols