Summer Theatre at Mount Holyoke Opens Eleven-Play Season; Revives Theatre Education Efforts

>>> The kibitzing cast of Crossing Delancey might have been saying, "You'll never guess what's in store for you this summer at Summer Theatre at Mount Holyoke."

Summer Theatre at Mount Holyoke has announced its 1997 season of plays for adults and children, its first under producing director John Grassilli. Eight comedies and dramas will be performed, as well as three performances for young audiences. There will also be a three-week "Students on Stage" workshop. Grassilli, a Summer Theatre veteran since the inaugural 1970 company, notes about the coming season, "There's something for everyone this year: plenty of comedy, farce, mystery, poignant drama, and even horror."

The actors come from around the country and around the corner, and include Broadway actress Amelia White (Crazy for You and The Heiress) and Caitlin Clarke, who's known for her stage, screen, and TV work as well as past Summer Theatre appearances. Roy Steinberg, producer of the TV soap opera The Guiding Light, is among the summer's directors. Three MHC students are working with Summer Theatre: Heather Allison '99 is head of publicity and development, Alison Brody '97 is working the box office, and Jenni McSpadden '97 is the lighting and design intern.

Main-stage shows, to be performed in the tent outside North and South Mandelle Halls, are: Don't Dress for Dinner by Marc Camoletti (June 24&endash;28), a staccato-paced comedy that has kept audiences laughing in Paris and London for the past four years; My Three Angels (July 1&endash;5), Sam and Bella Spewak's popular romantic comedy about a family and the convicts that come to their rescue; Auntie Mame (July 8&endash;12), Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's biographical play about the one and only Mame, which will feature seventy characters played by twenty-five actors ("more people on stage than ever before," according to Grassilli); Blithe Spirit (July 15&endash;19), one of Noel Coward's most delicious and naughty comedies; Black Coffee by Agatha Christie (July 22&endash;26), featuring John Grassilli as detective extraordinaire Hercule Poirot; Dancing at Lughnasa (July 29&endash;August 2), Brian Friel's award-winning chronicle of the lives and loves of five sisters in Northern Ireland in 1936; Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell (August 5&endash;9), which deals with the triumphant and humorous journey of an English housewife liberating herself from the dreariness of ordinary life; and a new adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein (August 12&endash;16), written and directed by Boston playwright Jack Neary.

Frankenstein will be performed in Gettell Amphitheater, marking the first time that space has been used at night in thirty-four years. It will be a real spectacle, Grassilli says, complete with fire, horses, lightning, and an elaborate laboratory where Frankenstein's monster comes to life. The show will be enhanced by original music composed by MHC music professor Allen Bonde.

The amphitheater's usual role as home to children's plays will continue too. This summer's fare for young theatregoers includes Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? by Tom McCabe (July 2&endash;5), The Great Race of the Tortoise and the Hare by Tom McCabe (July 16&endash;19), and Return to the Land of Oz by Noah Smith (July 30&endash;August 2). Thanks to a grant from the South Hadley Arts Council, the children's shows will showcase local kids aged nine to twelve. They will spend three weeks in a workshop program called "Students on Stage," which marks the rededication of Summer Theatre to theatre education.

For tickets or additional information, call the box office at 538-2406.