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Show will 'sock it to you'

| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006

For the past few seasons, Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale has provided an interesting array of diverse entertainment, performing quality shows of music, drama and comedy.

This Thursday through Sunday, the cast will take the audience back to the days of sight gags, one-liners and hot pants with the stage performance of "Laugh-In."

Dan Rowan and Dick Martin's show "Laugh-In" ran at 8 p.m. Mondays from 1968 to 1973, with its quick wit and fast-paced humor an instant rage.

Director Bethany Kerns, who was not yet born when the original series aired, learned of the fun and whimsy of "Laugh-In" through the magic of re-runs.

"I watched the re-runs on Nick at Nite," Kerns said. "I've always had a fondness for skit comedy and it actually fueled my interest in theater."

Kerns, who has a degree in theater from Pitt at Johnstown, has directed numerous college productions. However, this is her debut as a director at the Scottdale theater.

The material is one reason Kerns chose "Laugh-In" for her first foray. The unique opportunities created by the original show also intrigued the director, however.

"It always amazed me that so many big stars got their start on the show," Kerns said, "and this is a way to pay tribute to them and their talent."

Stars such as Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Lily Tomlin and Ruth Buzzi are just a few of the stars whose careers were launched by the popular show.

The staged production will be performed in two acts with approximately 10 skits in each for a total running time of 1 hour, 30 minutes.

The 13-member cast will portray a series of different characters throughout the show, parodying the premise of the "Laugh-In" series.

"My goal is to have major flashbacks," Kerns said of her audience's reaction to the play. "When they see the decor, hear the music and see the wall, it will all come full circle."

The cast has been rehearsing for weeks and Kerns is pleased with their ability to grasp the fast-paced slapstick since most were not familiar with the show, having never seen it prior to the play.

"They have worked pretty hard and they have learned fast," Kerns said. "They've been good to work with."

Cast members include veteran actors and some new faces, all blending together for a great and entertaining ensemble.

"It's really been a lot of fun," first-time performer Megan Gardner said. "A friend of mine said something about it to me, and it's been great."

"Sock it to me" and "You bet your sweet bippy" are just two of the catch phrases that will be uttered during the production, bringing back fond memories to those who remember the show and creating a new crowd of nostalgic television fans.

The show is for audiences of all ages, although some of the humor may be a bit dated.

"It's the humor of the '60s," Kerns said, "and some of it may need to be explained, but we made sure that it was a family- friendly show."

"Laugh-In" will be staged at 8:15 p.m. Thursday through Saturday with a 3:15 matinee Sunday. All tickets for the show are $9. For information, call the theater at 724-887-0887.

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