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Four Le Wilhelm One-Acts Make for a Romantic Evening

(Poster design courtesy of A Class Act Productions)

George Cron, managing director of local theater company A Class Act Productions has a long relationship with the late Le Wilhelm, Stone County native and noted playwright and theater director who died in 2013.  The two were friends for many years, and George delights in producing Wilhelm's humorous and often odd-ball one-act plays.  For the Valentine's Day weekend A Class Act will present four of Wilhelm's romantic-comedy one-acts under the umbrella title Foolish Hearts.  Performance dates are Thursday through Saturday February 11-13 all at 7:30pm at the 319 Event Center, 319 West Walnut Street.

Directing the production will be, not Cron himself, but Shannon Sherrow. It's her first directing gig for A Class Act, but she's worked with George for several years. "He's also my acting coach and mentor.  We've worked on films and plays; I've been involved in multiple productions with A Class Act. And just over coffee one day were were talking and he said that he wanted to do a Valentine show but was unable to direct, and asked if I would be interested."  George sent Shannon some 20 or 30 of Wilhelm's one-acts, and she selected the four that audiences will see as part of this evening.  (George came up with the "Foolish Hearts" title.)  The plays do deal with "adult themes."

Andie Bottrell stars in two of the one-acts, Fantasy Restaurant and T and A. She says Fantasy Restaurant depicts "sort of a game show that's set in a restaurant, where a contestant comes on and they get to live out a fantasy. And my character's fantasy is to meet someone who will be 'honest and truthful'". It turns into a good example of "be careful what you wish for."  Also in Fantasy Restaurant is Jonna Kae Volz, playing what she describes as a "wealthy Texan woman" who, with her husband, "has some 'ideas' and approach (Andie's character).  that's really fun because I don't get a lot of opportunities to act out characters that are far from myself as far as accents and attitudes. I'm having a lot of fun with it."

Andie's other appearance during the evening will be in T and A, in which "a man and a woman meet at a bar and have a rather, ummm... sexy philosophical discussion regarding the way women are perceived."  Jonna Kae will also be seen in Girl of Your Dreams.  "There are three men who have learned about this potion and this chant and spell that's going to summon the 'girl of their dreams'.  And the three men in that (play) are just incredibly talented, and so funny and fearless... and end up in their underwear on stage... with feathers." Adds Shannon Sherrow, "we won't tell you how that (the feathers) plays a part! Come and find out."  (All three women were quick to add that no female characters will be similarly disrobed.)

The fourth Le Wilhelm one-act in Foolish Hearts is Teasers, says Shannon.  "It follows two different characters as they both get ready for a date with each other.  And they talk about the annoyances of getting ready for a date, and everything you have to go through. Then at the end you see them actually meeting for that date."

Shannon says the overall cast is a "pretty large" one by A Class Act's usual standards, including several MSU students along with some of the regular "George Cron stock company" of local actors.  George's publicity for the show promises that "you might blush, but you will laugh."  The evening will run about 90 minutes, with 15-minute intermissions. The longest play in the set runs about 20-25 minutes. 

It's a dinner-and-a-show evening, though tickets are available just for the play itself for $15.  Dinner and show ranges from $26 to $30 depending on menu items, and cocktails and other drinks will be available.  Ticket reservations are available by calling George Cron at 766-3139.

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning Arts News. Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's Ozzie Award in 2006.