Playhouse’s 2014 season includes comedies, a memoir and a popular musical

By Vicki Rock
The Daily American

January 21, 2014

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The Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown is celebrating its 75th anniversary with six shows — both new shows and repeats of audience favorites.

The year kicks off May 12-16 with the elementary program "Junie B. Jones," based on children's books. The theater works with Theatreworks USA out of New York, which will put on 10 performances.

"Kids come from all over," producer Teresa Stoughton Marafino said. "Many schools from Somerset County come, and since the county gives us a grant the local schools get tickets at a reduced rate. Some tours also go into schools, but it is important for them to get into the habit of going to a place. Live entertainment is not the same as on TV. All the shows in 2014 are to honor the past as we look forward."

The playhouse is producing all the performances. Members of Actors' Equity Association perform all shows. Directors are from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Musicians are from the American Federation of Musicians.

The first adult performance will be "The Marvelous Wonderettes," which will run June 17-29. It is a jukebox music comedy, with music from the 1960s and 1970s. "Forever Plaid" was the guys version of this type of story and Wonderettes is the girls version. It is the first time Wonderettes is being performed at the playhouse.
The big musical this year is a repeat of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," which will run July 8-20. The playhouse presented Joseph in 2004 and it was one of its most popular productions.

"This is a larger show, we're very excited," she said.

A comedy/farce, "Funny Money," will be performed July 22-Aug. 3. It is about an accountant who finds a briefcase of money. The playhouse presented it earlier, but that performance was years ago.

"We always include a farce because people love them," Marafino said. "This was written by Ray Cooney, who is a local favorite. 'Funny Money' is my second favorite of his. I love 'It Runs in the Family,' but that has a cast of 13 and 'Funny Money' has a cast of seven."

Mitch Albom's "Tuesdays with Morrie" will be presented Aug. 5-17. This is based on the best-selling book. It is the first time the play is being performed locally.
"It was perfect to add this to the anniversary to honor father James B. Stoughton, the playhouse founder," she said. "He died of Lou Gehrig's disease. People who loved the book will love the play."

In the book, newspaper sports columnist Mitch Albom recounts time spent with his 78-year-old sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz, at Brandeis University, who was dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It is often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain.
"Driving Miss Daisy" will be held Sept. 16-28.

"It was done before and everyone loves that show," she said. "We will offer some 10 a.m. performances of 'Driving Miss Daisy' for high school and junior high school students."

The final show of the season will be "Midlife! The Crisis Musical" to run Sept. 30-Oct. 12. It is a new show for the playhouse.

"While 'Menopause' is the girl's side of things, 'Midlife' is both girls and guys," Marafino said. "We wanted a comedy to end the season."