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Valley Players to present '60s musical

| Thursday, June 20, 2013, 10:15 a.m.
Bill Pribisco | for the Ligonier Echo
“Holly” played by Rachel Nicely gets advice on love from “Mama “played by Francine Mitchell in the Ligonier Valley Players show the “Summer of Love.” This photo was taken on 6/9/2013 by Bill Pribisco at the Ligonier Theater

Theatergoers can put flowers in their hair and join the Valley Players of Ligonier as they perform “Summer of Love” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and June 28-29 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday and June 30 at the Ligonier Theater.

Director Karin Maresh described the show as being like “Hair”, but in a more family friendly capacity.

The story, set in 1967, follows a runaway bride, who leaves her prospective husband at the altar and falls in with a group of hippies in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, who help the bride figure out what she wants in life.

“It's a show that has a nice message,” Maresh said. “I think the message is to seek for your happiness. Find your happiness; don't do what others are prescribing for you. It might be right for them, but not for you, so find your own way.”

The cast of “Summer of Love” includes Rachel Nicely, Shantel Burkholder, Cletus McConville, Jerry Woodling, Temperance Grace, Dominic Camarote, Francine Mitchell, Cassidee Knott, Jonathan Lunn, Amy Yanity, Savannah McElhaney and Bruce Maysmith.

The show will feature music from the famous Summer of Love, including The Mamas and the Papas, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and Scott Mackenzie. Maresh as well as many in the cast admitted that the music is the main draw of the production, and they expect a lot of audience participation in the form of joining in singing. Even those cast members who were not alive during 1967 know of the famous songs of the era.

Bruce Maysmith, who plays one of the hippies, was 9 years old in 1967. He said it was the music that made him want to join the cast of this musical.

“This is the music I grew up on. The audience will definitely recognize most of the songs and join in,” Maysmith said.

At the other end of the spectrum, Rachel Nicely is a younger cast member who plays Holly, the runaway bride. She said she knew some of the music, but not much. However, it was the plot of the story as it pertained to the subject matter that made her want to join.

“I thought it seemed fun because it's an era that is not usually represented,” Nicely explained. “I don't know of any other show other than ‘Hair' that does the whole hippy thing. And then to have someone else come in — my character, the beige — I think it's kind of neat to have that change into a free spirit rather than staying stagnant.”

Peter Turcik is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.