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Falls Patio Players prepare for studio series

Aug. 14, 2012

Menomonee Falls - The four shows in the Falls Patio Players' second annual studio series all have one thing in common: the characters battle confinement.

The 2012-13 studio series "Captivating," features four plays that tell the story of people who are trapped or confined and how they manage to escape. The shows aren't typical performances, but are meant to give the audience an intimate experience as the actors bring to life the play with a script in hand, reading out loud with little movement. This presentation is commonly called "reader's theater," and the audience has a chance to hear the characters' lines and the playwright's directions.

The series is in addition to the Patio Players' four main stage performances each year.

"Readings are a unique perspective into the show," said Alan Piotrowicz, who is the resident lighting designer for the Patio Players and the assistant director for the studio series. "We're seeing a show early in its developmental process so we can focus on the text of the play without having to worry about the technical aspects of it."

Series kickoff performance

The series begins with "Stuck," by Wisconsin Playwright Neil Haven. The performance is slated for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at the North Middle School auditorium, W16750 Garfield Drive. There is a suggested donation of $10.

"Stuck" is a modern-day screwball comedy that finds Ella, an agoraphobic elevator operator, getting a personal look into a woman's obsession with proving that her traveling husband, Ian, is unfaithful.

The play is set in a hotel in Milwaukee and has a six-person cast, Piotrowicz said. Haven developed "Stuck" at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Piotrowicz said by incorporating "Stuck" into the studio series, the Patio Players can give the play a trial run with the audience to see if it would be a good fit to develop for the main stage in coming years.

Studio Series Producer Melissa Carlson said the series is a different aspect of theater that many people do not get to see.

"It's a more intimate setting where you're sitting close to the actors," she said. "There are beautiful flaws because they don't have it totally memorized."

The series also allows the Falls Patio Players to tackle pieces with adult themes, as some of the shows scheduled throughout 2012-13 are tailored more for adults. The main stage shows the community theater company produces throughout the year are family friendly.

"This gives us a chance to do something that has a little more edge to it," Carlson said. "It lets us expand into something different."

There are three more shows planned centered on the theme of captivity. "The Woman in Black" will be performed on Oct. 26, followed by "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress" in March, 2013, and "The Baltimore Waltz" in May, 2013.

Sense of family abounds

In its 46th year, Falls Patio Players is an entirely volunteer-run organization. This is Carlson's fifth year with the troupe.

Carlson said it is the sense of family, the talented and diverse group of people, and the quality of productions that makes Falls Patio Players a unique community theater. From actors to set designers, the talent in the community theater group is abundant.

"It's like a family, and that's an amazing thing to be a part of," Carlson said. "It's wonderful to see the diversity: it's all ages, races, kinds and creeds, and you're just part of the family."

This is Piotrowicz's fourth year with the company. He said they are always searching for new members, be it actors, set designers, painters or back stage crew.

A membership meeting that is open to the public is slated for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at DeMarinis' Pizzeria, 15229 Main St. in Menomonee Falls.

For information, visit FallsPatioPlayers.com.

IF YOU GO

WHAT:Falls Patio Players perform "Stuck"

WHEN:7:30 p.m. Friday

WHERE:North Middle School auditorium, N88 W16750 Garfield Drive

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