In 2007, when Los Angeles-based actor/playwright Tom Dugan was first booked as a Quad City Arts Visiting Artist, it was as the star of his self-written, one-character performance piece Robert E. Lee: Shades of Gray. When he returned as a Visiting Artist in 2008, it was as the author and director of another one-man show, Frederick Douglass: In the Shadow of Slavery.
Now, with Broadway director Jenny Sullivan at the helm, Dugan returns for his third stint with Quad City Arts in Simon Wiesenthal: Nazi Hunter, another solo vehicle that the busy stage and film actor both wrote and stars in. And, it should go without saying, Dugan recognizes that audiences hesitant about attending productions on the Civil War and slavery may be even more leery of one concerning the Holocaust.
"When anyone is preparing to go see this," says Dugan during a recent phone interview, "I'm sure there's this feeling like, 'Aw, man ... do I want to sit through this?' And I'll tell you, when I sat down to write the play, I thought, 'Aw, man ... do I wanna write this play?'"
At last count, there were a whopping 46 area-theatre productions scheduled between September and December, and included among the titles are A Dog's Life, The Big Funk, Scrooge!, Don't Hug Me, and Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical. It's the season that my editor, Jeff, has been waiting for!
David Lindsay-Abaire's Rabbit Hole won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for drama, one year after winning a Best Actress Tony Award for Sex & the City star Cynthia Nixon. A movie adaptation is currently being filmed, starring Academy Award winners Nicole Kidman and Dianne Wiest.
When Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre opens its presentation of Lindsay-Abaire's acclaimed play on August 13, it will feature popular local performers Jessica Nicol, Denise Yoder, and Susan Perrin-Sallak, and boast direction by Bryan Tank, much admired for his work in such Quad City Music Guild productions as Jekyll & Hyde, Evita, and the recent All Shook Up.
And, as Tank himself understands, Richmond Hill's Rabbit Hole is still no slam dunk.
"Literally thousands of people have come through this building to perform on our stage," says Craig Michaels, past president of the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's board of directors. "But without demeaning or belittling any of the work that's been done here over the years, I was finding that I didn't feel the entire community was properly represented within our building, both on our stage and behind the scenes."
The following is the Friday, June 26 broadcast of WVIK's "Midweek Week," with host Herb Trix discussing the area's summer-theatre season with the River Cities' Reader'sMike Schulz. "Midwest Week" can be heard weekly on WVIK 90.3 FM - Augustana Public Radio, Fridays at 6:50 p.m.
Friday, June 26: Download
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