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Sit back and enjoy all 10 shows at Apple Hill Playhouse | TribLIVE.com
Theater & Arts

Sit back and enjoy all 10 shows at Apple Hill Playhouse

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Musical director Michael Rozell rehearses songs from “The Taffetas” with Katie Aiello McCusker, Autumn Hadbavny, Katie Kerr Springer and Leyna Wright. The musical revue opens the season at Apple Hill Playhouse May 16-26.

Apple Hill Playhouse wants its audiences to sit back and enjoy the shows — all 10 of them — as the Delmont community theater gets ready to open its 37th season.

Two musicals, five plays and three children’s shows comprise the lineup of productions to be presented from May through October, offering theater-goers a wide array of options.

“Summer is a great time to come out and support local theater,” says veteran actor Mike Crosby of Greensburg, who is serving as board president of Apple Hill’s Orchard Performing Art Company.

Crosby says he and other board members have selected a season he is proud of “and one I know will be a hilarious, insightful, fun time for all who come.”

Fabulous ’50s

Kicking off the season May 16-26 will be the 1950s musical revue from Rick Lewis, “The Taffetas,” starring Katie Aeillo McCusker of Irwin, Leyna Wright of Greensburg, Katie Kerr Springer of Pittsburgh and Autumn Hadbavny of Regent Square as the sweet-sounding sisters presenting “A Musical Journey through the Fabulous Fifties.”

Tina Lepidi-Stewart of North Huntingdon is directing what she calls “a wholesome, feel-good show” that spotlights more than 40 jukebox favorites from the ’50s — like “Where the Boys Are,” “Love Letters,” “Tennessee Waltz” and “Puppy Love.” Michael Rozell is the musical director.

“I have directed it once before and just fell in love with the music,” she says. “People will love this show because the women in it have such a great bond and they love being Taffetas. Audiences will love the music and be reminded of a great era of life and music.”

Wright says “The Taffetas” holds a special place in her heart. She has performed in three past productions as a Taffeta sister and choreographed the show for Norwin High School under Lepidi-Stewart’s direction.

‘Delicious harmonies’

“People who grew up on the music will be transported back to their heyday while the younger crowd will be introduced to delicious four-part harmonies and may even recognize songs like ‘Mr. Sandman’ and ‘Sh-Boom,’ ” she says. “There is also a ton of comedy in this show.”

McCusker also is a “Taffetas” veteran, having performed in four past productions. She considered not auditioning because “I felt that it was time to move on from it — but after hearing about all the people that were going to be involved, I couldn’t resist.”

“There’s not a big plot to follow and nothing ever takes a turn for the worst,” Springer adds. “It’s just four sisters, singing great songs and loving sharing their music.”

The show focuses on the girl group from Muncie, Ind., as they prepare to make their national television debut on Dumont Television Network’s “Spotlight on Music,” hoping that Ed Sullivan will be watching.

Hadbavny is making her debut as a Taffeta and describes the show as “a whirlwind, sugar-sweet ride through the hit parades of the 1950s.”

“The level of care and detail that has been put into the musical arrangements (Michael Rozell), choreography and staging (Leyna Wright and Tina Stewart) and costumes (David Cook) to truly capture the authentic look, sound and feel of this era is truly incredible,” she says.

Hollywood farce

Following “The Taffetas” at Apple Hill will be the old-Hollywood farce, “Moonlight and Magnolias” (June 6-16), in which Crosby will perform.

He says the new season has a great mix of classic audience favorites, such as “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (July 25-Aug. 4) and “Blithe Spirit” (Sept. 26-Oct. 6), as well as new shows not yet seen in the region, “The Savannah Sipping Society” (Aug. 15-25) and “Outside Mullingar” (Sept. 5-15).

Also on the schedule is the comedy, “Sex Please, We’re Sixty” (July 4-14).

Kids shows will include “Hyronomous A. Frog: The Frog Prince” (June 18-27), “Let Your Hair Down Rapunzel” (July 9-19) and “Charlotte’s Web” (July 30-Aug. 8).

“Fostering a lifelong love of theater starts with introduction at an early age … and leads to a love and appreciation of the arts as a whole, which is such an important and vital aspect of our society,” Crosby says.

New this season, patrons will be able to purchase show tickets and tickets for the playhouse’s third annual fundraising cabaret gala, “Comedy Tonight” on July 20, via the Apple Hill website.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Categories: AandE | Theater Arts
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