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Weekend events to bridge span between winter, spring

Randy Orndorff, left, portrays Mr. Thorpe with Richard Bennett, right, as Elliott Nash in a rehearsal of Winchester Little Theatre's production "The Gazebo." Rich Cooley/Daily

Lori Pilong, left, plays Nell with Richard Bennett as Elliott Nash in Winchester Little Theatre’s production of “The Gazebo.” Rich Cooley/Daily

Lori Pilong, left, plays actress Nell, with Richard Bennett as her husband Elliott during a rehearsal of Winchester Little Theatre's "The Gazebo." Rich Cooley/Daily

James Murray plays district attorney and next door neighbor Harlow Edison "The Gazebo." Rich Cooley/Daily

By Josette Keelor

This weekend, valley residents can spring forward with comedy, music and dancing to plow the way from the cold of winter to the warmth of spring.

At Winchester Little Theatre, "The Gazebo" invites audiences along on a wild ride when television writer Elliott opts for murder when faced with a blackmailer threatening to harm the reputation of Elliott's soap opera actress wife. But that's not all. The comedy gets zanier when Elliott uses his recent writer's block to explain the murder, pretending that the advice he seeks from his district attorney neighbor and fellow screen writer, Alfred Hitchcock, will be used to fuel plot twists.

Elliott's plot careens out of his control when first he has to hide the body in his living room from a barrage of unexpected visitors and next the body reappears in the living room after Elliott buries it under the gazebo in the backyard.

"A lot of what goes on is in Elliott's head," said Richard Bennett, who recently returned to the stage at WLT.

"It starts out like it's going to be a real tense drama," he said. "The tender moments are there too and they're really important and they're good."

Really, though, it's "a comedy with drama in it," he said.

James Murray plays the D.A. and Lori Pilong plays Elliott's wife Nell. Other actors play several roles among them, said director Bill Heavner.

Heavner, also sound designer for the show, provided a musical score built entirely of Leroy Anderson songs, and actress Barbara Swink is the show's set dresser.

Set in the 1950s, the play unfolds like a Hitchcock movie, Bennett said.

"It's not 'come watch a comedy,'" he said. "It's 'come watch a really good story.'"

"The Gazebo" will open at Winchester Little Theatre today and run weekends through March 23. Performances will be at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices are $18.75 for adults, $16.75 for seniors and $14.50 for students. For more information, call 540-662-3331 or visit wltonline.com.

Also playing:

The Valley Playhouse in Harrisonburg will present its production of "Enchanted April" at Court Square Theater, Thursday to Sunday through March 16, with performances at 8 p.m., Thursday to Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Set in 1922, the story depicts British characters who undergo a moving transformation when they travel to Italy for the month of April.

For tickets, call 540-433-9189 or visit www.CourtSquareTheater.com. Pay-what-you-will night is March 14.

The 50th Anniversary Memorial Service for Patsy Cline, in memory of her death 50 years ago, will offer events around the community in remembrance of the late country singer, with tours of her Winchester home, a Saturday tribute reception with music and food, and a Sunday memorial service.

The Patsy Cline Historic House will be open for tours through Saturday, with tours every half hour between noon and 4 p.m., at 608 South Kent St., Winchester. Admission is $8 for the general public, $6 for senior citizens and free to active military.

Special arrangements are required for groups of 10 or more. The Patsy Cline Historic House normally is closed the entire month of March.

Saturday, A Celebration of Life tribute reception will take place from 8 to 11 p.m. at the George Washington Hotel, 103 E. Piccadilly St., with Patsy Cline tribute singer Liz Ruffner performing in the Half-Note Lounge. Beverages and appetizers will be available for purchase. Admission is free.

In remembrance of Cline's life, a memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at Omps Funeral Home -- South Chapel, located at 1260 Front Royal Pike. The service is open to the public and will be held indoors with plenty of seating available. Reflections of Patsy Cline will be made by people who knew her and by people whose lives her story and her music have touched. After the service, those attending will gather at Patsy's interment site to pay homage.

For more information, call 540-722-2400.

Outdoor fun awaits those who want to end winter on a high before turning the clocks ahead for the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, at 2 a.m. Sunday.

In Basye Saturday, Winterfest will be the grand finale of Bryce Resort's winter season.

Beginning with a pancake breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. in the Fireside Grill and followed by a costume parade, the day's main events from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. will delight guests young and old. Costume skiing will be available for all ages throughout the day, with DJ Doug providing a soundtrack for the slopes. Afterward guests will be invited to the Copper Kettle for Apres Ski.

Bryce Resort is located at 1982 Fairway Drive, Basye. For more information, call 540-856-2121 or visit www.bryceresort.com.

Massanutten Resort, at 1822 Resort Dr. in McGaheysville, has announced weather conditions perfect for one last weekend of skiing before spring. Following the recent winter storm, visitors to the resort can expect snowy slopes during the day and an evening of music, with band Souled Out, playing at the Encounters Lounge in the ski lodge from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights.

For more information, call 540-289-9441 or visit massresort.com.

Also this weekend, Wintergreen Resort, south of Waynesboro, will hold its Spring Fling Weekend, with its final Night Rail Jam of the season from 6 to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Skiing will take place from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Wintergreen Resort is located at 39 Mountain Inn Loop, Wintergreen. For more information, call 434-325-2200.

The resort also will host a Sugarbush Sojourn from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Hike along Wintergreen's trails to see first hand how to collect sap. Hiking wear and advanced registration are recommended. For more information, call 434-325-8169, visit www.twnf.org, or email info@twnf.org.

Hoping for an early start to spring this weekend?

In Boyce Saturday, the Young Naturalist Program will offer its Sense-Sational Spring event. For grade levels one to six, programs at Blandy Experimental Farm will help children use their senses to search for budding plants, emerging insects, calling birds and frogs and more. The sessions will take place mainly outside.

Sessions will be from 9 to 11:30 a.m. for children in grades one to three, and from 12:30 to 3 p.m. for children in grades four to six.

For more information, call 540-837-1758 ext 0 and use registration code "spring."

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com.


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