October 26, 2009

The show must go on (RTG edition)

Update, Oct. 30: The cast received a well-deserved standing ovation tonight. Even without the backstory, below, it's a great show. But all the angst leading up to it makes it almost historic. You've got just three opportunities to catch this terrific performance.As I write this late Friday night I have just one bit of advice for you: Don't miss it!

Original post:

If you attended a performance of The Sunshine Boys at the Racine Theatre Guild last weekend, you were probably surprised to see Norm McPhee playing the role of Willie Clark.

The short version of this long and complicated story is that McPhee, right, took on the role when Jerry Rannow suffered a detached retina and had to have eye surgery. Since the show had already opened (Jerry performed the first weekend), it was too late for anyone to step in other than the director, Norm, who was familiar with the script and the right age.

So the RTG was presented with an unusual, challenging and unprecedented situation. Unprecedented in that Jerry Rannow had himself just joined the cast just one week prior to opening night, when the actor originally cast in the role had to withdraw.

McPhee was the Theatre Guild's managing director for 32 years, from 1969 to 2001, having retired to emeritus status. That same year he was named a life member of the Guild, and directs a play or two at the RTG each season. In 2008-2009, he directed The Nerd and The Boys Next Door. He also does some professional acting and voice-overs. During his long career he’s directed well over 300 plays. This season he will also direct Murder at the Howard Johnson's, which runs Jan. 22-Feb. 7.

Show times for the final weekend of Sunshine Boys are: Thursday 7 p.m., Friday 7:30 p.m., Saturday 4 & 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m. Tickets are available at 262-633-4218 or at the RTG website.

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