The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 19, 2013

WHEN THE TWAIN MEETS

Young cast highlights ‘Tom Sawyer’ at Harbor Playhouse

By ROBERT LEBZELTER - bobleb@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA —  Harbor Playhouse is celebrating its two-year anniversary with a real piece of Americana, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

With a script by William Braun, the Mark Twain characters are channeled into a full-length play, all taking place in Aunt Polly’s living room.

The play opens tonight and runs Saturday and Sunday and April 26, 27 and 28. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m. Sunday productions are at 3 p.m.

“The plot comes in the dialogue,” says Sara Perts, operations director.

“It’s still an exciting play. Even though it takes place in one set, there’s a lot of movement,” she said.

Louie Ruane plays Tom Saywer, Joseph Damore as Huckleberry Finn, Ave Warren as Aunt Polly, Samson Ruane as Sid Sawyer, Dennis Dixon as Joe Harper, Marti Dixon as Widow Douglas, Kirana Rogers as Becky Thatcher, Mary Fetsko as Mary Rogers, Maximilian Ruane as Walter Potter, Lucy Ruane as Amy Lawrence, Eric Riesterer as Injun Joe, Perts as Sereny Harper and Sher Kanieski as Mrs. Thatcher.

Given the nature of the play, it is populated by a lot of children, mostly ages 12 to 16.

“There’s a different kind of approach when directing kids,” she said. “Most of them have been in other productions, either at Harbor Playhouse or the Ashtabula Arts Center.”

The play is directed by Mark Pendleton, a veteran of many productions in the area, although this is his first director’s stint at Harbor Playhouse.

“He’s not directed anything here so far, but he’s been in several productions, more as an actor than a director,” Perts said.

Pendleton said, “I’ve been doing this a long, long time. I like working with kids. We’ve done ‘Rock Nativity’ 10 times and I’ve been a part of it every time. It’s fun watching the kids grow up, have fun with it. Plus it’s hard to beat ‘Tom Sawyer.’”

“Rock Nativity” is a musical Christmas play.

Marti Dixon appears to perpetually be on stage. Sunday, she wrapped up two weeks at the Ashtabula Arts Center in “Our Town.” Tonight she jumps into “Tom Sawyer.”

But she isn’t worrying about mixing up the two, decidedly different plays.

“I’m that character when I’m on stage,” she said. “A line out of ‘Our Town’ would not make a lick of sense.”

Joseph Damore wanted to play Huckleberry Finn so badly he wrote it on his audition slip.

“I’ve read ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Huckleberry Finn’ before. I thought it would be cool to play Huck Finn,” Joseph said.

Why “Tom Sawyer?”

“I suggested it to the director. It is fun, family theater. That’s what the playhouse is about, fun, family theater,” said Perts.

She said using new directors and actors help the theater grow. Audiences have been larger than anticipated.

“New directors, new cast members bring in more people. The longer we’re around, the more people come.”

Harbor Playhouse will next tackle William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”

The play will be presented in August. Tryouts are June 1 from noon to 2 p.m. and June 3 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Tickets for “Tom Sawyer” are $5 at the door. Visit www.harborplayhouse.org. Email info@harborplayhouse.com.