The Times West Virginian

June 28, 2012

WVPT season starts this week

By Nicole Lemal
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — As the West Virginia Public Theatre (WVPT) opened up the red curtains at the Metropolitan Theatre on Wednesday for the first time this season, they were thrilled to reveal who was behind the curtain.

Broadway stars Brandi Wooten and Bart Shatto are starring in their first production “9 to 5,” a new musical comedy based on the classic hit movie. Now in its 29th year, the WVPT offers a variety of productions. Starting off with this production just sets the tone for what they expect to repeat over the coming weeks.

“It’s lively,” artistic director Michael Licata said. “It’s big. It’s colorful. That’s part of the reason. We like to start big.”

Drama is inevitable in this production. Three females working with Shatto are fed up. As the chauvinistic, bombastic boss in a workplace of women, Shatto is known to chase after everything in a skirt.

“The perception is he sits in this little office and gets credit for everyone else’s work,” Licata said. “It’s not just about the women but also the little guy picking up the slack for the big guy.”

For the next six weeks, the WVPT will have shows that they promise will be highly entertaining. Performances will be held on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and on at Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m.

Accustomed to being represented by the most talented actors and actresses in the region and beyond, the WVPT operates as a non-profit, professional regional theater. For every dollar they spend, executive director Loree Houghton estimates they generate $4 back into the economy.

With this being the second season the theater has had its performances at the Metropolitan Theatre located on High Street, Houghton feels it has added a spark to the already lively atmosphere.

“The theater is fully restored, and it’s absolutely beautiful,” she said. “When you go in, you feel like you’ve come to the theater. It feels like a Broadway theater, complete with the red velvet curtains. It’s very special, so we’re really happy to be in that theater.” 

Following “9 to 5,” “Godspell” features a high-energy, youthful cast in a family-oriented environment. Members include local Fairmont resident Jeremy Crawford along with Erin Sullivan, who is fresh off the tour of “Young Frankenstein,” and Jenyth Rosati, who played Nancy in last season’s “Oliver.” The performance is a modern-day version of the gospels shown in the form of song, dance, comedy and mime. Songs such as “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” and “By My Side” bring the parables of Jesus Christ to life.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Licata said.

Along with WVPT favorite Robert Anthony Jones,  Wooten will reappear in the Cole Porter classic “Anything Goes,” a performance with lots of tap dancing and a lot of humor. Revived a number of times on Broadway, it was one of the first successful musicals that opened in 1934.

In the next week, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” is a celebration of the 1950s and 1960s girl group music, which chronicles four women during their high school prom and their 10-year reunion. Dana Glaus, Alexandria Howley, Jenyth Rosati and Erin Sullivan are featured in this production.

“All Shook Up” is a comedy that features the music of Elvis Presley and is also set to the story of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”

And to end the season, the music of Johnny Cash will be featured in “Ring of Fire” as a tribute and celebration of his music.

Located downtown, the Metropolitan Theatre and the surrounding area has a lot to offer. Around the corner are fine restaurants such as Dragonfly, which makes for an ideal night out in the town.

“By coming to a performance, you can have a really great evening in a downtown area,” Licata said.

Being able to catch a glimpse of these actors and actresses of the WVPT in action is special as well, he said.

“A lot of people just met in the last couple days, but they truly love what they do. They have a passion for what they do. I think live theatre is wonderful. You sit there and watch people sweat, maybe forget a line, whatever, but they’re being entertained. That’s what we want to provide to the audiences.”

To learn more about the WV Public Theatre, visit the website at www.wvpublictheatre.org or find them on Facebook listed under West Virginia Public Theatre.

Email Nicole Lemal at nlemal@timeswv.com.