March plays serve both lighthearted, dark comedy

Productions in March will bring some familiar faces and personalities to local theaters, whether they’re lovable cartoon icons or names of fame from eras past.

Steven Peros’ play “The Cat’s Meow” will feature a cast of Hollywood figureheads from the 1920s like Charlie Chaplin and Marion Davies at Winchester Little Theatre. Audiences will follow guests at William Randolph Hearst’s weekend yacht bash in honor of Thomas Ince’s birthday – which will only end in murder.

Director Roxie Orndorff said the stylistic flair of the period caught her eye when reading the script, which is swirled with intrigue, affairs and a good bit of dark comedy.

“The ’20s were a very interesting time period…It was a very glamorous time, but it had a very ugly side, also,” she said. “This has a sort of combination of both those sides that was interesting.”

Orndorff said the conspiracy theories surrounding Ince’s death continued to persist through the years.

“There was just a lot of innuendos and people talking and rumors that something had been covered up,” she said. “It was just one of those Hollywood mysteries that kind of clung on.”

“The Cat’s Meow” has been a change of pace and a challenge for Ordorff as a director, and she said the production required its own share of research on her part.

“It was just fascinating and illuminating and a more unique process where you are actually looking at historic figures and not a totally imagined persona,” she said.

“The Cat’s Meow,” recommended for high school ages and older for language and innuendo, will play at Winchester Little Theatre at 8 p.m. today and Saturday, and on March 10-12 and 17-19,  and at 2 p.m. Sunday, and on March 12, and 13. Tickets can be bought at the box office or online at http://tinyurl.com/hpdkvjg and are $19.75 for adults, $17.75 for seniors 62 and older and $15.50 for students.

Schultz Theatre

The Peanuts crew will get up to their usual comedic antics onstage when the Schultz Theatre in New Market performs Clark Gesner’s musical, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Director Daniel Mintz said the production feels like a run of the daily comics, from weekday strips to Sunday funnies.

“It’s just fun and lighthearted,” he said. “Like most comic strips, it’s got things that would go over the heads of little guys and that parents will find amusing…but in general, everyone will get something out of it.”

This will be the first production Mintz is directing, but he has a bit of a leg up from familiarity with the musical: he portrayed Linus in a 2009 production while attending University of St. Andrews in Scotland. This time around, he’s part of the cast at Schultz as Schroeder, but he said it’s nice to be able to see the musical from the audience’s point of view and make his own tweaks from the director’s chair.

Mintz said the classic, bumbling appeal of Charlie Brown tickles crowds young and old.

“We’ve all had our Charlie Brown moments,” he said laughingly. “Also, from an imagination perspective, seeing Snoopy on top of his doghouse as the Red Baron…that is my favorite part, personally. I think that’s just one of the iconic moments.”

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” will be showing at the Schultz Theatre at 7 p.m. today, and Saturday, and on March 11, 12, 18 and 19 and at 3 p.m. Sunday and on March 13 and 20. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors and can be purchased at the door, by calling 540-740-9119 or online at http://tinyurl.com/hfrybfn.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com

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