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Brainerd Community Theatre announces anniversary summer season

A classic comedy, an irreverent take on Shakespeare and one of the most popular musicals of the modern era constitute the 2019 Summer Theatre Season for Brainerd Community Theatre. Brainerd Community Theatre's Director Patrick Spradlin announced the three-show slate by stating, "This is one of the more ambitious seasons we've yet produced."

Opening June 25 will be Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys." The comedy tells the story of Willy Clark and Al Lewis, two aged vaudeville stars whose act broke up 10 years earlier. The pair hasn't spoken in a decade, but are brought together as part of a television special on the history of comedy.

"This is perhaps Simon's funniest play of his early writing career," Spradlin stated in a news release. "Simon's famous for writing witty dialogue with most of his characters coming across as

comedians. In this play, the main characters are actually comedians, so the dialogue works much better."

Spradlin also noted this marks the 50th anniversary of theater at Brainerd Community Theatre and Central Lakes College.

"Although there was theater being done in the area by various individuals and groups, it was in 1969 that Bob Dryden was hired to start a theater program at Brainerd Community College," Spradlin stated. "His first play was a Neil Simon comedy, so we've chosen to return to the roots, so to speak."

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, ticket prices for "The Sunshine Boys" will be rolled back to 1969 prices.

"Bob told me when he came to Brainerd the cost of admission to a play was 50 cents," Spradlin stated. "He thought that made for too cheap a date, so he upped the price to $2. He said it gave

more value to the product."

Spradlin will be featured in the production alongside veteran actor M.S. Bernard.

"He and I have been threatening to do a show together for some time," Spradlin stated. "We're making good on that here."

The play will be directed by Beth Selinger, known for her work with many local plays and theaters, and most recently as the director of Brainerd Community Theatre's comedy romp "Boeing, Boeing."

Hitting the stage July 15 will be "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield. Director Laura Marsolek described the show in this way: "Three madcap actors in tights weave their wicked way through all 37 of Shakespeare's comedies, histories and tragedies in one 97-minute wild ride that will leave you breathless and helpless with laughter."

Marsolek will cast three actors of any gender who are ready for high-energy and highly physical comedy; some improvisation experience is preferred but not required. Auditions will be May 6.

The area premiere of the smash hit musical "Mamma Mia!" concludes the summer season. Featuring the enduringly popular music of ABBA, the show will be directed by Amy Borash, who most recently directed "Church Basement Ladies" as part of Brainerd Community Theatre's 2018 summer season.

"Sometimes a show is so popular, so well received, that the rights for that show are unavailable for many years and community theaters are not able to perform them," Borash stated about the play. "'Mamma Mia!' has been one of those shows. I have been waiting years for the rights to become available, so I'm incredibly excited to have the opportunity to direct this production."

In the play, set on a small Greek island, Sophie dreams of a perfect wedding—one that includes her father giving her away. The problem? Sophie doesn't know who he is. Her mother Donna, the former lead singer of the 1970s pop group Donna and the Dynamos, refuses to talk about the past, so Sophie decides to take matters into her own hands. Sneaking a peek in her mother's old diaries, she discovers three possible fathers: Sam, Bill and Harry. She secretly invites all three to the wedding, convinced that she'll know her father when she sees him. But when all three turn up, it may not be as clear as she thought.

Auditions are scheduled for May 31 and June 1.

Tickets for all three shows will be available for sale beginning Sunday, April 1, at the CLC Theatre Box Office by calling 218-855-8199 or going online at www.clcperformingarts.com.