The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 6, 2013

RiverStage Community Theatre presents Neil Simon comedy ‘Fools’


For The Daily Item

LEWISBURG — RiverStage Community Theatre will present Neil Simon’s comedy “Fools” March 8-10 at the Campus Theatre, 413 Market St., Lewisburg. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. March 8-9  and at 2:30 p.m. March 10.

Tickets are $15 for general admission seating with discounts available for groups and multi-show packages, and can be purchased at the door, by phone at 506-8423 or at www.riverstagetheatre.org. 

“Fools,” which premiered on Broadway in 1981, tells the story of an energetic young schoolteacher, Leon, who takes a new job in a quiet small town in the Ukraine in the 1890s. After arriving, he discovers the inhabitants have been cursed for 200 years with chronic stupidity. To complicate matters further, Leon falls in love with his boss’s beautiful daughter, Sophia, who is already being pursued by the richest man in town.

With help from the village’s other colorful residents, Leon sets out to break the curse, save the town, and live happily ever after.  CBS-TV praised “Fools” as “bright, fresh, funny, witty, warm” and “the happiest to-do on Broadway.”

Jove Graham, a Lewisburg resident and graduate of Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre Company professional development program, is the show’s director. 

“‘Fools’ was clearly a labor of love for Neil Simon,” Graham says, “that gave him a chance to mix comedic styles and create larger-than-life characters and situations that just wouldn’t fit in most of his other modern-day plays. There are influences from Borscht-belt vaudeville humor, Abbott & Costello, Burns & Allen, Monty Python — it’s first and foremost a comedy. But it’s also a story about family, small-town living, and the teachers who inspire us and set out to make our world a better place. 

“It’s about love, what it means to be intelligent, and the hard choices we sometimes make when our life’s goals and dreams don’t always match up with the people we want to spend our lives with.  Amidst all the laugher, it’s really a beautiful little story.”

This production features an all-star cast of 10 talented actors from across the Susquehanna Valley including Lewisburg, Northumberland, Milton and Winfield.  Ben Hartman, who recently appeared as Puck in Gaspipe Theatre’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” plays Leon, the optimistic teacher who sets events in motion. His love interest, Sophia, is played by Sarah Bell of Lewisburg, a graduate of Indiana University’s theater program.  Leon and Sophia are guided by her parents, Nikolai and Lenya, played by the real-life couple of Ken Kopf and Hope W. Kopf of Northumberland who have appeared together in Milton Area Community Theatre’s “Over the River and Through the Woods,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and many other area shows.

The villainous Count Gregor, who competes with Leon for Sophia’s affection, is played by actor Glenn Wilson whose impressive resume includes roles as Carlos on “All My Children,” Mark Rothko in “Red” and Moss in “Glengarry Glen Ross” at Key West’s Waterfront Playhouse. 

Finally, the cast is rounded out by an ensemble of hilarious characters played by Andrew Shaffer, Bradley Wakeman, Kathy Coup, Traci Ferguson and Ned Ladd who together bring years of Shakespearean, musical theater, radio, and other performance experience to the stage. 

Set design and construction is by Dennis Merkle with costumes by Hope Kopf and Barbara Ross, properties by Kathy Coup and lighting by Andy Seal.

RiverStage Community Theatre, formerly known as the Milton Area Community Theatre, was founded in 2003 as a nonprofit group of actors, directors, musicians and artists committed to bringing top-notch theatre to the Greater Susquehanna Valley. In 10 years, the group has produced 17 shows including classic musicals, plays and concerts. 

The group is expanding its season to reach a broader audience and collaborate with talented performers from all across the region.  After “Fools,” the group’s season will conclude with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in July.

For more information about the show or to purchase tickets, visit www.riverstagetheatre.org, send email to info@riverstagetheatre.org, or call 506-8423.