Local theaters ready to raise the curtain for winter shows

The frozen air gives way to the heat of stage lights this month as local theater groups return to action after the holidays.

One-Act Festival
Diva Theater’s fourth annual One-Act Festival, a collection of 10 short plays, takes over the Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W. Market St., from Thursday to Saturday, Jan. 26 to 28, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2 p.m.
Diva loves to present original work, founder Paige Balitski said, and “writers feel comfortable” there.
“We appreciate writers in this area,” she said, noting how most of the writers and directors are local. “They love to see new stuff. Let’s face it — we’ve got a Pulitzer Prize-winner in Jason (Miller) and a Pulitzer Prize (finalist) in Stephen Karam. And they had to start somewhere. People are hopeful.”
The lineup includes works by Margo L. Azzarelli, Marnie Azzarelli, Jason Belak, Christopher Conforti, K.K. Gordon, Michael Pavese, John Schugard, Albert Shivers, J. Stewart and Rachel Luann Strayer. They’ve penned a love story, an 1870s-set piece full of what Balitski called “shoot-em-up-cowboy stuff,” a historical tale focusing on four generations, a piece about a man having philosophical conversations with a monkey and much more.
“We’ve got some eclectic stuff,” Balitski said.
Tickets are $10 and $12, and seating is limited in the second-floor theater; call 570-209-7766 for reservations.

January means another chance to tackle Shakespeare for United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Youth Department.
UNC again teams up with New York- and Philadelphia-based REV Theatre Company, this time presenting a free production of “Macbeth” on Friday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. at UNC’s Oppenheim Center for the Arts, 1004 Jackson St.
Scranton resident Miranda Chemchick takes on the role of the Scottish thane whose play for power ultimately leads to his demise, while West Scranton High School student Kayla Chofey portrays the conniving Lady Macbeth. Fifteen-year-old Kayla aimed for that role during auditions, interested not just because of Lady Macbeth’s overall character but also “everything around her.” Nabbing the lead surprised but thrilled Chemchick, 20, who noted she plays a man who has somewhat of a feminine side and has moments of sanity and insanity.
“It’s all these different emotions,” she said.
REV tends to add unique touches to its shows, too, Chemchick said, and this time opposite sides of the audience will sit facing each other.
“Some of the scenes will be very up close to the audience,” Kayla said.
“I think the audience will like how interesting it will be,” Chemchick added.
For details, call 570-961-1592, ext. 105.

‘Terra Nova’
While it might feel like Antarctica in Scranton this winter, Actors Circle transports its audience to the end of the earth in “Terra Nova,” a drama focusing on the fatal British expedition to the South Pole that began in 1911.
For director Robert A. Spalletta, Ph.D., the play marks the fulfillment of a goal he set 34 years ago when he first saw the play.
“I said, ‘I have to do this sometime,’” he recalled. “It feels great. I am having a wonderful time.”
The show runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. from Feb. 2 through 12 at Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Road. Spalletta presents it with what he called his “dream cast,” featuring Casey Thomas as Capt. Robert Falcon Scott, who led his team to the Pole in the shadow of a rival Norwegian team, led by Roald Amundsen (William Zeranski).
The play was “taken literally from the journals of the Englishmen,” Spalletta said, and deals with the expedition and the British-Norwegian conflict. He noted it shows how people “accept or reject their higher circumstances.”
“You would think that a play in which everybody dies — and you know from the beginning that everybody dies — that it would be a real downer, but it’s not,” he said. “It’s fascinating to see how someone could relate to this. So you also see that they’re going crazy, they’re losing their minds because they’re freezing to death and they’re starving to death.”
Tickets are $6 and $8 for the Feb. 2 show and $8, $10 and $12 for remaining dates. For details, visit actorscircle.com or the group’s Facebook page, call 570-342-9707 or email tickets@

‘The Wizard of Oz’
Act Out Theatre Group, 408 N. Main St., Taylor, heads to the Emerald City in its latest show, “The Wizard of Oz.” It runs Feb. 3 to 12 with shows Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
The show closely resembles the beloved 1939 film adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s story about a young girl, Dorothy (played this time by both Kendall Joy and Isabella Snyder), who ends up in a faraway land of witches, Munchkins and magic. Audiences will hear favorite songs such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead.”
Act Out typically presents a family-friendly show this time of year and wanted to do the musical for a while, founder Candice Rowe said.
“It’s just one of those classics that I feel like the people just love it,” she said. “It’s a real
crowd favorite.”
Older high-schoolers make up the majority of the cast, although some younger kids fill in the Munchkin roles. Act Out double-cast the leads, so each performer does three of the six shows.
“It’s always nice when we do a big, family-friendly show to get new people in and see what we do here,” Rowe said. “Live theater is just so important.”
— caitlin heaney west

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