CLT staging
‘Shakespeare
in Hollywood’

AUBURN — Hilarity runs rampant on the Community Little Theatre ( stage when silver screen legends of the 1930s get an unexpected visit from two superstars of Shakespeare’s most popular comedy.

“Shakespeare in Hollywood” is a romp by Ken Ludwig, whose side-splitting humor gained appreciative world-wide audiences in “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo.” The current CLT farce by Ludwig was selected for the Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play in 2004.

Performances of “Shakespeare in Hollywood” are at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Feb. 12 and 13; 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14; 7:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 18-20; and 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 21.

Director Mitchell Clyde Thomas guides a large cast that’s split between veteran performers and CLT newcomers. Audience members will find themselves on a madcap ride through Hollywood glamour, romance and sound stage shenanigans.
Here’s the story pitch: It’s 1934 on a Warner Brothers sound stage where filming is underway for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Jack Warner and his brothers are dealing with a casting dilemma for Shakespeare’s most famous fairies, King Oberon and Puck, when they supernaturally materialize. They are soon eager participants in tinseltown glitz, and inevitable pandemonium ensues.
The script’s screen stars and studio bigwigs are all based on fact, Thomas said.
Much of the action takes place on a Warner’s soundstage, complete with cameras, lights, and elaborate backstage activity.
Another principal scene erupts in the mansion garden of movie mogul Jack Warner.
It’s “a fantastic scene,” Thomas said. It’s where chaos breaks out “in true Ludwig fashion.”
Roger Phillipon, 20-year veteran of many CLT productions, plays studio head Jack Warner.
Stephen Brakey, who recently moved to Maine, plays Oberon, Shakespeare’s fairy king, and Lilly Victoria Gardiner is Puck, the Bard’s irrepressible sprite. Gardiner is a senior at Brunswick High School and has a British background.
Thomas praised Gardiner’s extraordinary dancing ability.
“Sometimes you think she’s flying on stage,” he said.
Others in the cast support the wild weaving of historical facts with magical circumstances.
Melissa Stevens of Lewiston returns to the CLT stage, after an 11-year break, cast as Lydia Lansing, a character loosely based upon actress Jean Muir.
Thomas noted unusual circumstances leading to Stevens appearing in the part. He said another actress was selected for the role, but she got a casting call from Hollywood, so she made a fast trip to the West Coast.
“It turns out that Melissa is perfect for the Lydia Lansing part,” Thomas said.
Chip Morrison, one of the company’s long-standing actors, plays Harry, the oldest movie-making Warner. The other two brothers are played by former Auburn city counselors, Adam R. Lee and Bruce Bickford. Lee doubles as film comedian Joe E. Brown.

Andrea Quaid is cast as the formidable radio gossip personality Louella Parsons. Movie actor Dick Powell is played by Henry Quintal, of Augusta, in his first CLT appearance. David Marshal, of Monmouth, portrays famed director Max Reinhardt. Paul Menezes plays Daryl, Warner’s validating “yes-man,” and Dan Kane, of Auburn, appears as Jimmy Cagney. Kane also plays the Daryl role for Saturday performances.
CLT newcomers Charlie and Rebecca Cole, married actors from Windham, portray Hollywood censor Will Hays, and leading-lady Olivia Darnell, a character based on actress Olivia De Havilland.
Other members of the ensemble are Dwight J. Wilcoxson, Bre Allard, Jane Mitchell, Lynn O’Donnell, Linda Sherwood, Zachary Morin and Yoel Sherwood.
Two actors in “Shakespeare In Hollywood” also make cameo appearances as Groucho Marx and Tarzan. Audiences also are likely to spot CLT favorites Michael Litchfield and Bernie Button, who bear strong resemblances to Mickey Rooney and Victor Jory.
Heidi McCurdy is producer and Hayden Thomas is assistant producer.
Stefanie Lynn is assistant director; Nancy Kenneally is costume director; Tom Anderson is technical director; Patricia Phillips is artistic/vocal coach; Richard Martin is lighting director; Maureen Brann is light operator; and costume team members are Katie Luu and Dominique Cyr.
The show is appropriate for all audiences.
For tickets or information, call the CLT box office at 783-0958 or go online to www.laclt.com.
Community Little Theatre is located at the Great Falls Performing Arts Center, 30 Academy St., Auburn.


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