A deliriously affectionate ensemble of actors is having a ball in Springfield Theatre Centre’s production of the 1930s comedy You Can’t Take It with You, by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, which concludes its run this weekend at the Center for the Arts (8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday). Felicia Coulter must be what Kaufman and Hart had in mind when they created the role of Penny Sycamore, a Manhattan wife and mother who decides to take up playwriting. Grace Smith lights up the stage as her quirky daughter who dreams of being a ballerina. Hilarious!
I finally caught a performance of Kari Catton’s new play Born with a Veil — another example of strong ensemble acting — last week. Mary Young centers the play as a mother grappling with her 13-year-old daughter’s psychic abilities. The young people in the show — Talor Lutz, Molly Mathewson, Sam Germann, and Joe Hawkes-Cates — are outstanding.
In other theater news:
• Local playwright George A.M. Heroux is auditioning actors for Shorts That Fit, seven short plays he has written that will be performed April 21-24. Heroux is looking for eight actors, four men and four women, who will all play multiple roles. The auditions will be held at the Hoogland Center for the Arts at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19. For more information, call Heroux at 217-523-7087.
• The Springfield Municipal Opera is offering an audition workshop for children and adults interested in trying out for the summer season at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27. Directors will be on hand to discuss their shows and explain what they expect at auditions. The summer Muni lineup includes The Sound of Music (directed by Ed Smith), Ragtime (directed by Laurie O’Brien), Annie Get Your Gun (directed by Chuck Hoots), and Beauty and the Beast (directed by Leigh Ann Smith). The actual Muni audition dates for adults are March 5, 6, and 12; children’s auditions are held March 19. For more information, visit the Muni’s Web site, www.themuni.org.
• On Sunday, Feb. 26, the Theatre in the Park at New Salem holds auditions for its summer musicals at the United Methodist Church, 221 W. Jackson St. in Petersburg. This summer’s shows include Paint Your Wagon (directed by Don Russell), Guys & Dolls Jr .(directed by Derry D. Dalby), Pippin (directed by Carly Shank), and Little Shop of Horrors (directed by J. Nick Dickert). Auditions for Paint Your Wagon, Guys & Dolls Jr., and Pippin will be held 10 a.m.-1 p.m., and auditions for Little Shop of Horrors will be held 2-4:30 p.m. For more information about the summer shows and auditions, visit www.theatreinthepark.net or call producer Patrick Anderson at 217-241-0232.
• Next week, Kathryn Harris and Patricia James-Davis bring back their production of Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years as a fundraiser for the Sangamon Valley Historical Society. The show is presented at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25 and 26, and at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, at the Center for the Arts. I worked with Harris and James-Davis on the staging of the 1996 New Salem Chautauqua Series production, and it’s been fun watching them bring these characters back to life. The play is based on the best-selling book about several generations of an African-American family as told by two sisters, both more than 100 years old. The play takes place in the sisters’ living room in New Rochelle, N.Y., in 1993, as they carry on a conversation with the audience about their lives. For tickets, call 217-523-2787.
• One of the many activities planned for the April 16-19 dedication of the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is a re-enactment of Lincoln’s farewell address to Springfield. It will be performed at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 17, at the historic depot by local actor Fritz Klein. Karl Bockemeier directs. After the re-enactment, a torchlight parade will move from the depot to Union Park across from the museum, where a concert with the 312th Army Band will be presented, followed by a big fireworks and laser show. If you’re interested in taking part in the parade, give me a call at 217-785-6085.
The theater community lost a member last week with the death last Saturday of Billie Mowery of Petersburg. She sang with the Menard County Singers for many years and performed in the chorus of many productions at New Salem, including Spoon River Anthology, Our Town, The Trip to Bountiful, 110 in the Shade, and many more. We will miss her greatly.