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Theater preview: Open Stage of Harrisburg 2016-17 season

HARRISBURG – Not everyone will expect a theater to be tucked away in a parking garage – but then, not every theater is the Open Stage Of Harrisburg.

Nearly all of the productions at Open Stage, 25 N. Court St., are staged at its home location between Walnut and Market streets on the street level of the Walnut Street parking garage in downtown Harrisburg.

This professional regional theater is dedicated to “presenting thought-provoking plays and musicals,” said associate artistic director Stuart Landon. “Our slogan to the community is simple: ‘Open Your Mind.’ “

Landon, a Houston native, has been a fixture on area stages for well over a decade, developing a base of followers after his stints at Mill Hall’s Millbrook Playhouse and Boiling Springs’ Allenberry Playhouse. At Open Stage of Harrisburg, the genial Landon initially was a frequent actor, then headed up its marketing efforts, and for the last few years, has been its associate artistic director.

Under the leadership of co-founder and artistic director Donald L. Alsedek, Open Stage is gearing up for its 31st season, which consists of varied attractions from each of its individual Subscription, Education and Court Street Series.

SUBSCRIPTION SERIES

“Red” (Oct. 7-30)

Winner of the 2010 Tony Award for Best Play, this searing drama focuses upon real life artist Mark Rothko. Only the master abstract artist and his assistant make up the cast, with the the storyline exploring Rothko’s personal struggles after he is commissioned to paint a series of murals for New York’s upscale restaurant The Four Seasons.

“A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story for Christmas” (Dec. 2-23)

Back for another holiday run is the colorful adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic. In Victorian England, three spirits visit the archetypical miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who finds redemption and a change of heart just in time for Christmas.

“Father Comes Home From the War, Parts 1, 2 and 3” (Feb. 3-26)

Set during the Civil War, this three-part play focuses upon a slave hero who is promised freedom if he fights for the Confederacy. Mixing music and contemporary wit, this poignant play examines “the mess of war and the true cost of freedom.”

“Uncanny Valley” (April 7 to May 7)

This production, with another two-person cast, focuses upon Claire, a neuroscientist, and the gradual improvements she makes upon her “artificial human” named Julian, who slowly becomes more sophisticated and human-like. But the play poses the question: Can he truly ever be considered as human?

“Ah, Wilderness” (June 2- 25)

One of the more familiar titles in Open Stage’s lineup, the final production in the Subscription Series is Eugene O’Neil’s tale of a young man coming-of-age in small town America on the fourth of July at the turn of the century.

OTHER SERIES’ HIGHLIGHTS

“The Santaland Diaries” (Dec. 9-22)

Court Street Series

Landon reprises his role as Crumpet, the disgruntled actor hired by Macy’s one fateful Christmas season. David Sedaris’ sarcastic autobiographical tale is “counter-programing” to more traditional holiday fare. This one man show is for “mature audiences” as it is replete with risque remarks about the oversized elf’s misadventures involving bratty kids and drunken Santa Clauses.

“The Diary of Anne Frank” (Mar. 7-12)

Education Series

Young Anne’s detailed diary chronicles her family’s hiding out from the ruthless Nazis during World War II. Her optimistic entries have inspired millions with her basic belief in the goodness of man. This annual production is staged in the nearby, more spacious Whittaker Center, 222 Market St. The May 7-10 run is presented strictly as private matinees for schoolchildren, with only one evening public performance on May 12.

All evening performances are 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. Sunday matinees. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.openstagehbg.com.