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Our Town brings Fools' to Tannery Pond

NORTH CREEK Those seeking a good laugh might do well to check out Our Town Theatre Groups production of Neil Simons Fools this weekend at Tannery Pond. The play is described as a light-hearted romantic comedy, set in the small village of Kulyenchikov, Ukraine (Russian Territory), during the late 1800s. Directed by Colleen Doyle, the cast features Emma Corey, Andy Studdiford, Asley O'Connor, Brenda Foley, Brian O'Connor, Lori Benton, Nina Dougherty, Bill Breidenbach and Al Ford. The play opens Friday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m., with performances on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Eric Potter designed the set and Mary Benton Frasier is the stage manager. Director Doyle said the decision to produce Fools was made by a small committee. ...With some persuasion on my part, Doyle said. I feel that "Fools" is a light fun entertaining evening of theatre and a very sweet story. The fact that it's Neil Simon, a known name, is a bonus in terms of generating interest from the "local theatre going public". The production has not been without challenges, Doyle said. There are always challenges with each production and with "Fools" we took on a comedy that relies on timing and some quick dialogue, she said. It's a typical Nei Simon play in that regard. Many of the actors will tell you that the fact that it is set in a remote Russian village added some challenges when it came to learning and pronouncing the name of the town, Kulyenchikov, and some of the character's names; Nikolai, Lenya, Snetsky, and Slovitch to name a few. But we've tried our hardest, and while not linguists or Russian scholars, I think we've done well. Doyle believes those who attend this weekends production will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of community theater in the North Creek area. While maybe not a surprise, Doyle said, the audience will be reminded that theatre is a living and breathing art that helps take us out of our own "everyday" and let's us travel and imagine- usually in two hour time blocks, with a 15 minute intermission. The Fools story starts with Leon Tolchinsky, an ambitious young schoolteacher, arriving in the village of Kulyenchikov. Upon arrival, Leon encounters a rather 'unintelligent' shepherd by the name of "Something Something Snetsky, the sheep loser." After a confusing and tedious conversation with Snetsky, Leon goes off to find the home of his new employer, Doctor Zubritsky. Leon meets with Doctor Zubritsky and his wife, Lenya, after struggling with the locals (Mishkin the postman, Slovitch the butcher, and Yenchna the vendor). He is introduced to the Zubritsky's daughter, Sophia, and is immediately lovestruck. Alas, she proves to be just as unintelligent as the rest of them, if not more so. He discovers that the town's idiocy is no accident, that it is a 200-year curse of stupidity cast on them by Vladimir Yousekevitch after his son killed himself because the first Sophia Zubritsky (not the doctor's daughter, but rather an ancestor with the same name) was forbidden to see Vladimir's son by her father, who found out the boy was illiterate, and made to marry another man. If Leon can't educate her within 24 hours of his arrival in Kulyenchikov, he, too, will fall victim to the curse. And the curse can only be broken if he can educate Sophia . . . or if she marries a Yousekevitch. As well as idiocy, the people of Kulyenchikov are also incapable of loving. Still, even without love, the last of the Yousekevitch line, Count Gregor, proposes to Sophia twice a day. With more motivation than ever, Leon strives to educate Sophia. Try as he might, 9 o'clock rolls around, as announced by the magistrate, and all seems to be lost. To find out how it all sorts out, come see Our Town Theatre Groups production of Fools at Tannery Pond Community Center this weekend. Tickets are $10 with student tickets costing $6. For tickets, call Charlotte McLain at 518-251-2938.

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