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Theater

'Life Could Be a Dream' at Mountain Playhouse to kick off 79th season

Shirley McMarlin
| Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 8:51 p.m.
The 2018 season opens on June 19 at Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown with 'Life Could Be a Dream,' a jukebox musical about a doo wop group out to make it big. Cast members include (from left) James Powers, Brandon Lambert, Tim Russell and Barrington Von Thurston McQueen.
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The 2018 season opens on June 19 at Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown with 'Life Could Be a Dream,' a jukebox musical about a doo wop group out to make it big. Cast members include (from left) James Powers, Brandon Lambert, Tim Russell and Barrington Von Thurston McQueen.
Chan Harris (left), seen with producer Teresa Stoughton Marafino, will direct 'Life Could Be a Dream,' opening June 19 at the Mountain Playhouse near Jennerstown.
Kim Stepinsky | for the Tribune-Review
Chan Harris (left), seen with producer Teresa Stoughton Marafino, will direct 'Life Could Be a Dream,' opening June 19 at the Mountain Playhouse near Jennerstown.
The 393-seat Mountain Playhouse near Jennerstown is Pennsylvania’s oldest professional stock theater. The theater is housed in a restored 1805 gristmill.
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The 393-seat Mountain Playhouse near Jennerstown is Pennsylvania’s oldest professional stock theater. The theater is housed in a restored 1805 gristmill.

There's a winning formula that keeps audiences returning year after year to the Mountain Playhouse near Jennerstown, Somerset County.

“It's the quality of what we put on the stage, first and foremost,” says executive director Patty Carnevali. “There's also the unique nature of our venue. There's nothing else like it anywhere.”

The 79th consecutive season of professional summer theater in the restored 1805 gristmill will open June 19 with the jukebox musical “Life Could Be a Dream.” The season promises the 393-seat venue's signature mix of farces and musicals.

A night there provides what Carnevali terms “a whole cultural experience. The theater sits next to a lake on grounds with beautiful landscaping. The drive to it is beautiful.”

And, there are plenty of nearby dining options to make it a culinary experience as well as a cultural one.

“Life Could Be a Dream,” running through July 1, will be directed by Chan Harris, who started at Mountain Playhouse in 1995 as an actor before moving to the director's chair.

“It has such great music, and five actors who are some of the best singers I know — and it's really funny, too,” he says.

Those five actors portray Denny and the Dreamers, a fledgling doo wop group hoping to make it out of the basement and into the big time.

“It has those stock characters — the greaser, the nerd, all the archetypes — and there's the woman friend who's trying to help them, and all of them have a crush on her,” Harris says.

The Roger Bean musical features beloved 1960s hits like “Sh-boom,” “Runaround Sue,” “Unchained Melody” and many more.

Also on the bill:

“Million Dollar Quartet,” July 10-19: Inspired by the 1956 recording session that brought Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins together for the first and only time, the musical features “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more favorite oldies.

“Who's Under Where?,” July 31-Aug. 12: Stolen underwear, mistaken identities, suspicious spouses, a scantily clad male model and a lecherous security guard all figure into this farce.

“The Affections of May,” Aug. 14-26: Who will win the title character's heart when her husband abandons their recently purchased country bed and breakfast to return to the city — and his mistress?

“One Slight Hitch,” Sept. 18-30: An old boyfriend shows up, threatening to ruin Courtney's wedding day in this comedy by Lewis Black, better known for his comedic rants on talk shows, stand-up tours and HBO specials.

“Smoke on the Mountain,” Oct. 2-14. It's a Saturday night gospel sing in a Great Smoky Mountains church in 1938, where the traveling Sanders family will sing two dozen bluegrass songs, including “I'll Fly Away.”

Each production will feature an after-curtain party on the second night of its run. Play-goers are invited to join members of the company at the nearby Green Gables Restaurant for music, food and a cash bar.

Cast members also will engage in a talk-back with audience members following the first Sunday matinee of each run.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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