The Theatre Guild Had a Successful 2022 Season

2022 is rapidly coming to an end soon and it has proven to be quite successful for the Theatre Guild. After two seasons off PTAG was not sure just how many shows it was going to be able to stage this year, but the end result ended up being rewarding. Due to COVID concerns the troupe had to be mindful, respectful and careful with casts, staff and audiences alike to ensure safety. For example, there were a large number of rehearsals where the cast wore masks throughout and one show even had a cast member rehearse via Zoom video chat. PTAG also had to allow for social distancing for those in the audience and omitting snacks at intermission. But, as the old maxim states, ‘the show must go on’ and they did. As a result we ended up with the usual three productions for the year.

Our first production was Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play. This type of show was staged once before to great success and so this title was the next venture in the Radio Play format. It was quite suitable to do under COVID concerns. The scene was a radio station and a troupe of four each portrayed multiple characters to tell gripping stories from the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. The tales told were “The Lodger,” “Sabotage” and “The 39 Steps.” But it was how they were told that made this theatrical event unique.

A Radio Play means it was the actors at microphones reading the script and enacting the characters, utilizing different and myriad accents to establish between them, as if acting in out for a old-time radio program. Accompanying them were a duo of artists with a full sound effects table laid before them and a pianist to embellish with background music as would have happened in a real radio performance. There were even silly little commercials complete with jingles, including one advertising nice accommodations at the Bates Motel, complete with a nice hot-water shower. Our Director: Kathy S. Dinsmore. Stage Manager/Tech: Matt Dinsmore. Our Cast: Doug Fye, Debra Dismore, Jef Dinsmore, Jessica Schidlemeier and Michael Shaffer. Or Effects Team: Ilona Fye and Maddie Mathews. Our Pianist: Nancy Pearce.

Our second show was the acclaimed comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. It was the summer production that ran both in Punxsutawney and at the Verna Leith Sawmill Theater in Cook Forest. It is a play with mutiple thematic layers, making it a delight for the cast to unravel, but in a nutshell, it revolves around the relationships of three middle-aged single siblings, two of whom live together, Vanya & Sonia, and takes place during a visit by the third, Masha, who financially supports them but doesn’t always emotionally support them. It is a absurd delight, to say the least. Also present are a crazy maid into voodoo and dire predictions, a half-naked boy toy named Spike and a sweet ingenue caught up in the whole mess.

Interspersed throughout the Christopher Durang piece were moments of homage to Russian writer Anton Chekhov and rants about longing for the simplicity of the past and a search for hope in a bright & better future. The sometimes madcap antics mixed with the serious tones at times made for a fun evening for everyone in the cast and audience. Our Director: Jef Dinsmore. Stage Manager/Tech: Matt Dinsmore. Our Cast: Tim Cooper, Debra Dinsmore, Kathy Dinsmore, Karen Duffell, Jef Dinsmore and Maddy Matthews.

Our last show just wrapped up in October. It was a little 90-minute play that offered up just much laughter and applause as the bigger works of the year. It was called 2 Across written by classic sitcom writer Jerry Mayer. The troupe was hard-pressed to find something that it could quickly stage to end the season and went on the search for work with a small cast and a simple set but still end up being a solid show for its audiences. This show fit that bill. Two characters offer a range of emotions when one of them opts to try to win the heart of the other. A perfect little rom-com, but it still required production value packed in to its hour and a half. It was achieved to audience delight.

In the play, two strangers, a man and a woman, board a San Francisco BART(Bay Area Rapid Transit) train at 4:30 a.m. They’re alone in the car, each is married, both are doing the New York Times crossword. She’s an organized, sensible psychologist. He’s a free-spirited, unemployed ad exec. She is a crossword pro, he always quits. When he tosses his puzzle away, she snaps, “Crosswords are a metaphor for life, those who finish, succeed, those who don’t, fail.” And with that the play is off & running but the two only having the 90-minute ride to talk out their woes, get to know each other and finish the crossword puzzle. For us, the telling was interesting as it was one claustrophobic set and two people taking the journey and just two actors to deep-dive into character. Our veteran actors always appreciate the deep-dive because that is always part of a rich theatrical experience. Also for the directors of this show it was the opportunity to work with a newcomer, something the troupe is always delighted to see. It show proved a great tutorial for her on how to create character. Our Directors: Jef Dinsmore & Debra Dinsmore. Stage Manager/Tech Matt Dinsmore. Cast: Noelle Rucinsky and Tim Cooper.

If you saw any or all three of these we hope we brought back memories of these good productions. If you missed any of these, well, see what you’re missing? See you in 2023!