It's been like old home week at Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, Rock Island.|
For a new production, the dinner-theater premiere of the 2009 comedy "Spreading It Around," veteran director Seth Reines is reuniting with veteran actress Lora Adams for the first time in 30 years.
This will mark Mr. Reines' 17th show at Circa '21 as director, the last being in 1999, when he did "Singin' in the Rain." Artistic producer for many years with Prather Entertainment Group -- which runs dinner theaters in Pennsylvania, Florida and, until recently, Arizona -- Mr. Reines first directed Ms. Adams at a dinner theater in Madison, Wis., in the late '70s, and did a number of shows with her.
"It's been great. I love working with her; she's a very smart actress," he said this week. "She's turned into a mature actress who's run a theater, worked for PBS. We walked in the door, looked at each other, and time has not passed. That connection is still there. It been a real pleasure."
"This is an incredibly heavy role for a woman," Mr. Reines said of the new show, about a wealthy Florida widow who tires of handing out money to her neglectful and unappreciative children and sets up a foundation to give her money to people truly in need. "She's great; she's doing it."
In "Spreading It Around," when the widow's greedy son and his shopaholic wife find out what she's up to, they attempt to have her declared financially incompetent. However, Mom learns of their scheme and turns tables on them -- showing just how competent she really is.
"It's a comedy about relationships, family. There's some real lovely, real scenes," Mr. Reines said. "I think a lot of families are going to relate to it. Seniors are very active now, have their own life. I want to see how it plays to several generations."
"It's very different, almost a workshop," Ms. Adams said of the play, her first leading Circa role since the comedy "Catch Me If You Can" in 2003. "He's added his own spin the way only Seth can. I think people will enjoy it. It's not a slamming-doors farce. It has a bit of heart."
The longtime director of marketing and local content for local PBS station WQPT-TV, where she's also been chief development officer, Ms. Adams also has directed several shows for the local New Ground Theatre troupe. When Mr. Reines first directed Ms. Adams, she was just 20 years old.
Mr. Reines was a consultant for Circa producer/owner Denny Hitchcock when he restored and opened the Rock Island venue in 1977, and Mr. Reines recommended Ms. Adams a few years later to play Liat in Circa's "South Pacific." The director has helmed national tours of "Sunday in the Park With George," "The Wedding Singer" and "All Shook Up," and for the past 10 years, he mostly has directed shows at the Prather dinner theater in Mesa, Ariz.
"He's great to work with as a director, extremely supportive," Ms. Adams said. "It's been a very supportive and nurturing environment, He gives you ideas, and sees if they work. He's constantly experimenting."
Mr. Reines said the late '70s was "the heyday of dinner theater" in this country, and just a few of them have survived. "It's amazing that Denny is one of them," he said. "There was sort of a resurgence in the late '90s. What's happened is, the bus tours have fallen off. The baby boomers, really, I don't think are that interested in the dinner-theater experience."
"I think his operation is unique," he said of Mr. Hitchcock's 91-year-old building, a former movie house. "It is a stunning building. It's a very unique theater. A lot of the theaters were built in smaller buildings. This was built on such a grand scale. Actors come in from New York, to what in essence looks like a Broadway house. He's done so much to put in a new light system; the sound system has improved. He's kept up with the times technologically."
The new play is by Londos D'Arrigo, a Canadian writer who for more than 35 years wrote comedy material for icons such as Phyllis Diller, Lily Tomlin and Joan Rivers. Mr. D'Arrigo gained initial exposure to TV audiences writing topical one-liners for Joan Rivers when she guest-hosted for Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show."
Joining Ms. Adams in "Spreading It Around" are three other Circa veterans -- Brad Hauskins, from "Southern Crossroads" and "Almost Heaven: The Songs of John Denver"; Steve Lasiter, of "Southern Crossroads" and "Ring of Fire"; and Liz J. Millea, who appeared in "The Full Monty" and "Grease." And appearing in his first Circa '21 production is Rob Summers, whose resume includes roles in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "Church Basement Ladies."
If you go
-- What: "Spreading It Around."
-- When: Through June 9. Preview 7:45 p.m. today; then 7:45 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 5:45 p.m. Sundays, matinees at 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays.
-- Where: Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, 1828 3rd Ave., Rock Island.
-- Tickets: $48 (includes dinner and show), except Thursday preview, $34; matinee, $41; seniors, $2 off; 18 and younger, $28. Show-only tickets available. Call (309) 786-7733, ext. 2, or go to circa21.com.