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October 5, 2001

Let me interrupt this series of columns about the Grand Opera House just long enough to talk about another subject. In a way, this piece also relates to the Grand, so it sort of belongs here. I'm talking about "The Wrong Mr. Wright," the latest offering from our own Stagecoach Community Theatre. It opened last night in the brand-new theatre of the Heritage Center, just off the southeast corner of the square.

Several months ago, when I first heard that Stagecoach had decided to produce the play and offer it as a unique centennial presentation, I was a little skeptical. Partly because I presumed the story had to be badly outdated and therefore not in sync with today's audiences. Also, I doubted scripts could still be available for an unheard-of play that was in vogue one hundred years ago. I was wrong on both counts.

First of all, some of the hard working Stagecoach people found a source (Samuel French Inc.) for the play manuscript, then a reading seemed to confirm that it was indeed appropriate for the wholesome families that Stagecoach has always catered to. No violence, no profanities or obscenities, and of course no depiction of any kind of nudity. The action occurs in the Victorian era, around 1890, but the comedy is just as funny today as it was a century ago when a touring theatrical group brought this play to Perry in 1901 for presentation at the old Grand Opera House on the east side of the square. Stagecoach's production occurs almost exactly one century later.

The play is well-sprinkled with laughable dialogue, funny situations, mistaken identities and an innocent crisis that appears to be the basis of a major forgery scam. The characters are broadly drawn, and are well portrayed by the cast, including some newcomers to Stagecoach. This is the kind of comedy that used to be popular in the movies, on radio and TV, but is now rarely seen.

Dinner theatre productions have been popular with local audiences since Stagecoach introduced them locally a few years ago with a series of offerings in the Elks Lodge ballroom. Our new Heritage Center has wonderful facilities for such dinners and you will have an opportunity to enjoy one of them on next Friday or Saturday night. All other performances of this play will be strictly theatre. The meal will be catered and served in the Center's Anvil Room, but seating there is limited to fewer than fifty. The Center's auditorium seats 111. The ticket price for the play alone is $7. Add $8 if you wish to attend one of the dinner theatre productions. In either case, you'll get your money's worth. On-street parking around the Heritage Center should be ample.

Tickets are on sale at the usual places - Chris' Pharmacy, Foster's Corner Drug, Exchange Bank & Trust, First Bank & Trust, and the Perry Printing & Office Supply. Check with those sources and get your tickets for the night that suits your family best. Come out and enjoy an evening of fun with some of Perry's dedicated thespians and let them entertain you.