SHINING CITY Plays The Center for Fine Art Photography, Runs 5/8-30

At its heart, openstage etc's production of Shining City is a ghost story inhabited by apparitions of heartbreak and betrayal.

Award winning playwright Conor McPherson sets his latest work in present-day Dublin, where widower John Seeks help from Ian, a former priest turned therapist. John has begun seeing the ghost of his late wife, a lapsed Catholic. Terrified, John has abandoned the house they shared and taken up residence in a bed and breakfast. He is desperate for help but Ian has his own troubles, including a new baby and a crumbling relationship.

What begins as an unusual encounter soon becomes a desperate, intimate struggle between the living and the dead; a struggle that shapes and defines both men for the rest of their lives.

"McPherson's genius lies in his ability to make specters not just of John's wife, but of things like Catholicism, marriage and guilt," said Matthew G. Smith, who is co-directing the play with Emelie Borello. "He uses no gimmicks, no contrived situations, just beautiful language that frames his characters and script."

OpenStage produced McPherson's The Weir in 2004, in which the Irish playwright addressed similar issues of Catholicism, supernatural superstitions and the emotions that haunt our everyday lives.

Although there are never more than two characters onstage at the same time, the play is dense with lives that intertwine without truly touching. Loneliness is what binds these intimate strangers.

McPherson forces these characters out of their safe self-absorption and makes them talk with - rather than at - one another.

"I'd like audiences to leave with an appreciation for the here and now; to not be afraid of what we can't change and focus on the things we can," said Smith. "All of us can relate to the ghosts of our past and the ghosts of our future, but McPherson shows us the key is to live in the now."

Performances of Shining City are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights from May 8 to May 30, with Sunday matinées at 2 p.m. on May 16, 23 and 30. There will be a Pay-What-You-Can performance on Thursday, May 20, at 7:30 p.m. Childcare will be offered through Young People's Learning Center on Friday, May 21. Call (970) 482-1212 for childcare reservations. Performances are at The Center for Fine Art Photography, 400 N. College Ave. in Fort Collins. A free performance for students and educators, funded by The Thornton Family Foundation, will be presented on Thursday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m. To make reservations for the student/educator performance, contact OpenStage Theatre at (970) 484-5237.

Individual tickets are $14 for all ages. Tickets are available through OpenStage Theatre, (970) 484-5237.

openstage etc, an artistic endeavor of OpenStage Theatre & Company, is dedicated to producing contemporary and original plays that are edgy and daring. Currently celebrating its thirty-seventh season, OpenStage Theatre is supported by grants from the Downtown Development Authority, the Colorado Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Fort Collins Fort Fund and the Thornton Family Foundation. Shining City is sponsored by RC Special Events.

For more information, visit OpenStage's website at www.openstage.com or call 970-484-5237. Founded in 1973, OpenStage Theatre is a recipient of the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts and a member of Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for not-for-profit professional theatres.

A not-for-profit organization, OpenStage Theatre relies heavily on the support of sponsors and patrons who help make each season a success. With assistance from corporations, foundations and the general public, OpenStage has been able to maintain high quality productions for 37 years. For information on sponsorship and charitable gifts and how you can support OpenStage Theatre, please call (970) 484-5237.

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