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Production Of 'East Lynne' A New, Improved Original

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Production of ‘East Lynne’ a new, improved original

By Norman Gibson


The version of "East Lynne" that the Ann Arbor Civic Theater will present Wednesday through Saturday is the original. 

It is a little more, too.

Civic Theater's play reading committee read the original and decided to produce it. 

But they had a problem.

MRS. HENRY WOODS' late 19th century script required 16 men and 15 women. 

Civic Theater directors always have a problem getting so many men for a production.

"Younger men aren't aren't the problem," says ex-AACT President Carol Deniston. "It's getting such a large number of older men that becomes almost impossible. We have had plays where people came back on stage and doubled in roles, and still there weren't enough experienced actors."

The committee searched, and found there are at least three other versions of the play.

The decided to perform the one by Brian Burton, publicity director Margie Cohen says.

THIS REQUIRES six women and five men.

Ms. Cohen will play the role of Joyce.

However, director Burnette Staebler decided that she liked the original version by Mrs. Woods and portions of it have been incorporated into the the Burton version.

"'East Lynne' has the appeal of a soap opera," Mrs. Staebler says. "There is one calamity after another but people today find it funny."

"East Lynne" was one of the most performed plays in the late 19th century.

Mrs. Staebler's production will have an "entre'act," just as they did 100 years ago. There will be a singer and pit piano.

SOME OF THE other productions directed by Mrs. Staebler for the Ann Arbor Civic Theater are "Cactus Flower," "Antigone," "Ernest in Love," "Lion in Winter" and "Kiss Me, Kate."

Cassie Mann will play Lady Isabel, the tragic heroine of the piece. Brian Colgan will play Archibald, her husband. Archibald's sister Cornelia will be played by Aileen Mengel and the villain will be portrayed by Leo MacNamara.

Alison Maker will be Barbara Hare, Lisa Burke will be Wilson; Richard Fleming, Richard Hare; Robert Turner, Lord Montsevern; Ed Lesher, the policeman.

Deborah McNamara is assistant director; Chris Schwartz, producer and Runelda Medrano, stage manager.

DON STEWART is designing the set and Ted Farah is building with Joanne Ziegenfuse building it.

The group has had more time to construct a set than it did for its last two productions, which were staged within a couple of weeks of each other. 

They have been at work on this set since mid-January.

Ted Heusel will direct the next production for Civic Theater, "A Flea in Her Ear" in April.

Heusel directed the group's first production of this season, an unusual production of "Our Town," with a choir added in other than the usual places.

Tibbets hold tryouts

It's encouraging to hear from Coldwater that the Tibbits Opera House is getting ready for the Tibbits Summer Theater.

They will hold auditions March 8 to find singer-dancers who will perform in the resident acting positions for the 1981 season that runs from June 28 through Aug. 30.

Older character actors will be sought for non-singing positions.

THE GROUP plans this year to present "The Music Man," "See How They run," "The Apple Tree," "Death Trap" and "The Robber Bridegroom."

Singer-dancers should prepare a "belt" and "legit" song. An accompanist will be provided.

The theater will open at 10:30 a.m. People will be auditioned in the order they sign in. Auditions will be held from noon to 2 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. at the theatre, 14 S. Hanchett St. in Coldwater.

The Tibbits Summer Theater is a professional non-equity company in its 16th season.

Producer Larry Carico can provide further information at 517-278-6029.

CIVIC THEATRE - Cassie Mann (left) stars as Cady Isabel in Ann Arbor Civic Theatre's production of "East Lynne," March 4-7, at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. Brian Colgan stars as Archibald, her husband.