Como Theatre: De facto Festival

They may not have planned it, but with 5 different productions by local theatres, Columbia, Missouri is hosting a de facto theatre festival this weekend.

“All the schedules just lined up,” stated no one but I figured putting a made-up quote would make it look personal.

Leading the group is one of COMO’s well known community theatres, Columbia Entertainment Company’s production of “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s“. This  screwball comedy promises to be hilarious as well as well directed and acted. Director Judy Olson, well known in the local theatre scene, has a passion for farces and comedies.  She’s worked extensively with her small cast since early February to perfect their timing.  “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” focuses on the ditzy Arlene Miller and her buffon lover Mitchell Lovell as they plot to murder Arlene’s husband, Paul in a Howard Johnson Motel.  But the thing is, each is too stupid to actually pull off the murder. The show runs Thursday through Sunday, April 19 to May 6th. Opening night tickets at CEC are only $8,  other nights vary from $8-$10.

Over at the MU Theatre Department in Rhysberger Theatre, Kevin Brown is directing Shakespeare’s famous play about the brooding Danish prince “Hamlet“. It looks like this one is a bit of an update as it has been adapted for a contemporary audience, emphasizing Hamlet’s descent into madness and his romantic entanglements with Ophelia. The show runs thursday through Sunday, April 19-26. Tickets are between $8-$10.

The Moberly Area Community College Theatre Department  is putting on “The Laramie Project.” Sure, that’s not technically in COMO but with so many MACC students (who get in free) it may be of interest.  “The Laramie Project” is a pretty tough show to watch as its subject matter is very serious.  It focuses on the tragic story of Matthew Shepard who in 1998 was tied, beaten and left to die on a bitter cold night in Wyoming, all because of his sexual orientation. That said, it’s well written and has been well received by critics across the country. The show runs this weekend only April 19-21st. Ticket prices range from free for MACC students and between $3 – $5 for the general public.

There are two musicals raising the curtain this weekend as well. The first, Talking Horse Production‘s presentation of [title of show] at the Berlin Theatre, adjacent to the restaurant formerly known as Cafe  Berlin, now known as Toast. Yes, the brackets are correct. This 2009 musical centers around the creative process of self-expression. It’s a love letter to the unique American art form of musical theatre.  I caught a few of the songs back in 2009 and have been itching to see this show. I’m excited to see what this production does. The show runs April 19-29.  Tickets are between $10-$12. It’s a very small theatre so get there early enough to secure a spot, or pay the additional handling fee and order online, or take advantage of their discount.

Finally, Performing Arts in Children’s Education (PACE) is presenting the musical adaptation of Dickens’ 1838 novel “Oliver!” at the Missouri Theater (I guess it’s no longer the Missouri Theater Center for the Arts?).  The cast is composed of non-adults ages 8-18, with one role, that of the antagonist Fagin, being performed by an “adult”, Trent Rash.  The show runs April 19-22nd with two performances on the 21st. Ticket prices are between $5 to $12 with their Thursday opening performance also serving as a fundraiser for the Buddy Pack Program for the food bank and being at a discounted rate of  $10

Three of the productions being produced in the area this weekend

CECTheatre (Murder at the Howard Johnson): 1800 Nelwood
Rhysburger Theatre (Hamlet): University and Hitt Street, 129 Fine Arts Building
MACC Auditorium (The Laramie Project): 101 College Avenue, Moberly, MO
Berlin Theatre ([title of show]): 220 N. 9th Street
Missouri Theater (Oliver): 203 S. 9th Street 

Pssst, next weekend Indpendent Actor’s Theater (IAT) opens Talley’s Folly, by Missouri playwright Landford Wilson.

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