Theater at Monmouth season

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MONMOUTH – There are plenty of enchanted midsummer nights (and some Saturday matinées) ahead in the 38th season of performances at the Theater at Monmouth.

Cumston Hall, a delightfully opulent Victorian opera house on a small-town scale, is the venue for both modern and classic presentations by the acclaimed troupe. The show schedules rotate each week, so numerous opportunities remain to catch most of the plays.

David Greenham, producing director at the Theater at Monmouth (TAM), said the July 27 opening of “Tom Jones,” Greenham’s new adaptation of the bawdy, over-the-top, Henry Fielding novel, is a highlight of the 2007 summer season.

Greenham said he kept a lot of Fielding’s language in his adaptation.

“His characters are great fun,” Greenham said, including some he describes as “wonderful, delicious and evil.”

Greenham noted that “Tom Jones” is a funny story, “but it also has got a heart.”

The story takes Tom and his only true love, Sophia Western, in their adventures from the quiet corruption of countryside to the sin and deceit of London’s 18th century upper class.

He said it’s unquestionably sensuous and there is some brief partial nudity that’s appropriate for the story line. Although the show is not suitable for children, there’s one youngster who gets into the theater. That’s the six-month-old child who is Tom as an infant.

“Tom Jones” has a cast of 30, Greenham said, and they range in age from the infant to an actor who’s 70 years old.

‘My Three Angels’

Other plays among this year’s offerings include Sam and Bela Spewack’s “My Three Angels,” which opened July 6 and continues on selected nights through Aug. 24.

It’s Christmas eve and 104 degrees at the penal colony of French Guyana where criminals who have nothing else to lose remember the most basic rules of honor, truth and friendship. Based on the French play “La Cuisine Des Anges,” and known to some by the 1955 Humphrey Bogart classic film “We’re No Angels,” this play is described as a completely captivating comedy.

It is directed by Janis Stevens and features Mark S. Cartier and Frank Omar.

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

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William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opened July 13 and it runs through Aug.25.

Set in an enchanted wood filled with fairies who sleep in the trees, two pairs of lovesick teenagers and a band of amateur actors rehearse a play.

Greenham said TAM’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is unlike any he has ever seen. “There are some goofy, surprising things in it,” he said.

Sally Wood is directing this production.

‘Charlotte’s Web’

Joseph Robinette’s adaptation of E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” is slated on dates from July 7 to Aug. 24. Dubbed “the best children’s book of the last 200 years” by the Children’s Literature Association, this delightful children’s tale was inspired by the occupants of White’s barn in Brooklin, Maine.

Peter Duffy is the director.

‘Vivien’

There’s one more chance to catch of “Vivien” by Rick Foster on Aug. 7 (it debuted July 19-20.) Janis Stevens returns in her Drama Desk-nominated tour de force about the life and loves of legendary actress Vivien Leigh.

Stevens has presented the one-woman show over the past several years from California to Vermont, including an off-Broadway engagement. Later this summer, Stevens takes “Vivian” to the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia.

‘Measure for Measure’

Also on the TAM schedule is Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” opening Aug. 4. Greenham calls it “something of a problem show.” He said people either are unfamiliar with it or they underestimate it.

“Actually, it’s a remarkable story,” he said, noting that its views on ethics and morals are timely for today.

“Measure for Measure” includes some of the Bard’s greatest dramatic scenes, and several memorable comic characters.

‘The Oldest Story Ever Told’

Greenham said “The Oldest Story Ever Told,” which runs Aug. 5-23, is TAM’s outreach project for 2007. The Lewiston Housing Authority and the Lewiston Recreation Department are making workshops with TAM interns available for young people two days a week, and the participants travel to Monmouth to see a performance.

The play is a look at the origins of the story of Cinderella in Africa, India and China, where the fairy Godmother is replaced by the King of Frogs, a magic fish and a bull.

‘Sight Unseen’

“Sight Unseen” by Donald Margulies is scheduled for July 21 to Aug. 14. Greenham said it’s about life and selling out as a former couple meet again.

‘Judevine’

Shorter engagements are planned for “Judevine” by Vermont’s Lost Nation Theatre Co. Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. David Budbill’s play is described as mingling the sweetness of Thornton Wilder, the raunchiness of Lenny Bruce, and the format of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood.

‘Once Upon a Mattress’

“Once Upon a Mattress,” the musical by Mary Rodgers which launched the career of Carol Burnett, is slated for Sept. 27-30 and Oct. 4-7.

For more information about the schedules, visit the Web site at www.theateratmonmouth. org or call 933-9999 or 933-2952.

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