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Taking Chances 

2nd Street Theater goes for the gut

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2nd Street Theater not only has a jam-packed 2016 season, but it still has plenty left for us in 2015 as its Season Showcase demonstrated. The house was full, the audience excited, and the almost three hours of material was very well prepared. For a sneak preview, it was impressive to see all the actors with lines memorized, as some of the pieces they were performing will not be staged for over a year. Without further delay, here is the lineup and some brief thoughts on each show.

For the rest of 2015 we have:

Avenue Q: This is the last weekend to catch this brilliant and beautiful musical about puppets just trying to find their purpose. This show brings the term "community theater" to a new level. September 17 - 19, 7:30pm. The Tower Theatre.

Evil Dead: The Musical: Back again for the first time since the show got an entirely new cast this year. Follow Ash and his friends while they attempt to survive the night as they battle the horrific Deadites. Beware the splatter zone! October 16 - 31, 7:30pm. October 18 and 25, matinee. October 31, midnight.

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas: This is a new play by local playwright Cricket Daniel. When Lou and Carol, married for 45 years, decide to cancel Christmas and head for somewhere warmer than frigid New Jersey, Murphy's Law raises its troublesome head. Daniel's plays tend to warm hearts, no matter the weather. December 3 - 19, 7:30pm. December 6 & 13, matinee.

New for 2016:

5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche: It's 1956 and at the annual quiche competition for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein, it might be the end of the world. Irreverent and smart, this show should appeal to anyone that enjoys a bit of fringe in his or her theater. January 15 - 23, 7:30pm.

Next To Normal: The Pulitzer Prize winning, rock musical about a "typical" American family and what's going on secretly in their minds. The five minutes of this show that were performed had me begging to see the rest of it. A very powerful work with some stunning music. February 12 - 27.

Laguna Beach, Ohio: The winner of the 2015 national playwright competition sponsored by the American Association of Community Theaters. Old friends reunite at a beach house that carries many powerful memories. Insightful, funny, and beautifully acted, this could be a must-see. March 25 - April 9.

The Last Five Years: Another powerhouse musical from the 2nd Street Theater. This show is about two New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in and out of love, told through a reverse chronology that keeps the actors apart for most of the running time. May 13 - 28.

I Am My Own Wife: A one-man show about Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a German transvestite who survived the Nazi regime in East Germany during WWII. The ten minutes shown to the audience had everyone spellbound to the point of hearing a pin drop. Performance dates forthcoming.

The Beatles Die on Tuesday: From local writer and actor Clinton Clark, the show follows brothers who have traveled back in time to 1954. One brother takes credit for all of the huge hits of the future, changing history forever. Hijinks ensue. August 19 - September 3.

Cricket Daniel's Unannounced 2016 Comedy: Still being written. September 23 - October 9.

Young Frankenstein: Mel Brooks' adaptation of his classic film into a stage musical. This should be a barnstormer of a show. October 29 - November 12.

There is still room for a few more shows to be announced (and titled) over the coming year, but one thing is certain: As they have proven with Avenue Q and countless shows before it, 2nd Street Theater is in the business of taking chances with local playwrights, with edgy and dark theatre, and with us, the audience. They are taking a chance that we will come out to shows that might make us uncomfortable or depressed, and that we don't always need something easy to wash down. Be challenged this year at 2nd Street Theater. You're safe with them.

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