Selah Dessert Theatre announces upcoming season

Selah Dessert Theatre will use fewer actors for its entire 2018-19 season than the average community theater uses for one production.

The intimate theater space above Selah Restaurant in Struthers will use eight actors, and the four shows planned already have been cast.

“I precast this season for the first time ever,” said Artistic Director Mary Ruth Lynn. “I’m a big proponent of auditioning, because you never know what you’ll find, but the acting pool is not very large here. This year, the shows I chose had roles that specifically spoke to me in terms of, ‘I know this person will be great in this role.'”

The season will open Sept. 13 with “Bakersfield Mist,” a comedy-drama by Stephen Sachs about a bartender (Denise Sculli) who believes the painting she bought at a thrift shop is a Jackson Pollack work worth millions. An art expert (Terry Shears) travels cross-country to her mobile home to authenticate it.

Other selections will include “The Lady with All the Answers,” a one-woman show by David Rambo about advice columnist Ann Landers (Connie Cassidy); “Storm Warning,” a drama by Norm Foster about a relationship between a damaged World War II veteran (Jim Ewing) and a free-spirited, pill-popping woman (Liz Conrad); and “Painting Churches,” a drama about the relationship between an artist (Jeanine Rees) and her aging parents (Molly Galano, Medford Mashburn).

“For the last couple years, I’ve tried to come up with a thematic thread that runs through the season,” Lynn said. “This year it was a theme of acceptance and truth.”

Lynn will direct all of the shows except for “Storm Warning,” which will be directed by Ron Sinesio, and she is looking forward to a second opportunity to do “Painting Churches.”

“I directed it in New Hampshire early in my directing days, and I never felt I did the show justice,” she said. “My first attempt was much too stagy.”

The theater, which gets its name because dessert is served at intermission at each performance, seats fewer than 40 people, and the intimate space lends itself to dramas with small casts. Local audiences have embraced the concept, Lynn said, and shows frequently sell out their five-performance runs before opening night.

“My audience is very receptive to literate theater that has some kind of message or more serious undertone,” Lynn said. “I’ve been very fortunate in that respect in terms of the diversity that I can program in there … And the actors love it, because every little thing they do reads with the audience.”

Tickets are $17.50 for each show at Selah Restaurant, 130 S. Bridge St., Struthers. Tickets on opening night are available for $35 and include a four-course dinner. The theatre doesn’t have season tickets, but tickets for each performance will go on sale about a month before opening at www.brownpapertickets.com.

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