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Sauk Season To Include World Premiere, Interactive Comedy, Family Musicals

Sauk Season To Include World Premiere, Interactive Comedy, Family Musicals

The Sauk, Hillsdale County's community theatre, is excited to announce the 2020 season of theatrical productions that includes family-friendly musicals, a Tony Award-winning drama and a world premiere. Founded in 1961 as the "Broad Street Players," The Sauk owns and operates the Sauk Theatre, located at 240 E. Chicago St., Jonesville.

The Sauk season will open with the world premiere of "On Pine Knoll Street," an award-winning new play. Thelma is a colorful and quick-witted 87-year old woman struggling with her memory. Her devoted daughter Marilyn, with whom she now lives, is trying to make the best of the situation. When Marilyn asks her neighbor Curtis, a struggling writer and stay-at-home father of a special needs child, to care for her mother and her beloved cats while she is at the beach, it sets in motion a friendship that tethers two families. This play is a winner of the American Association of Community Theatre NewPlayFest 2020 which is sponsored in part by the Jack K. Ayre and Frank Ayre Lee Theatre Foundation and Dramatic Publishing Company. The Sauk is one of only six community theatres in the country to be selected to be part of NewPlayFest 2020. The new play runs February 6-9 and 13-16. The production is sponsored by Southern Michigan Bank & Trust.

One of the longest running shows in Off-Broadway history, "Tony N' Tina's Wedding" is next on the Sauk schedule. Audience members are the guests at the nuptial celebration of Tony Nunzio and Valentina Vitale in all its tacky and hilarious glory. Following the church service is a reception where the audience joins the wedding party and their bickering families for a pasta dinner, champagne toasts, cake and dancing to a five-piece band. This special production will be performed March 26-29 at Johnny T's Bistro in Hillsdale. The production is sponsored by County National Bank.

The next production, "Weekend Comedy," will be performed April 23-26. Two New York couples discover that, due to a booking error, they've rented the same cottage for a three-day weekend. One couple, Frank and Peggy, is sedate and middle aged. The other, Tony and Jill, are free-wheeling and young. They decide to share the cabin. Before long, the comedic clash between the generations begins! "Weekend Comedy" is sponsored by Mark and Susan Pedrick.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical classic "The Sound of Music" will be performed at The Sauk for eight performances June 11-14 and 18-21. When a postulant proves too high-spirited for the religious life, she is dispatched to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval Captain. Her growing rapport with the youngsters, coupled with her generosity of spirit, gradually captures the heart of the stern Captain, and they marry. Upon returning from their honeymoon they discover that Austria has been invaded by the Nazis, who demand the Captain's immediate service in their navy. This production is sponsored by Saucy Dog Barbecue and Olivia's Chop House.

A hit on Broadway, "A Year with Frog and Toad" was nominated for three Tony Awards - including Best Musical. Based on Arnold Lobel's well-loved books, this whimsical show follows two great friends - the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad - through four fun-filled seasons. Waking from hibernation in the Spring, Frog and Toad plant gardens, swim, rake leaves, go sledding and learn life lessons along the way. The two best friends celebrate and rejoice in the differences that make them unique and special. The jazzy, upbeat score bubbles with melody and wit, making it an inventive, exuberant and enchanting musical for the whole family. Performances are August 13-16 and 20-23 and is sponsored by The Udder Side.

An annual Sauk tradition, "Sauk Shorts" is a celebration of short plays. Each play tells a complete story in 8-15 minutes. The plays will make you laugh, touch your heart and entertain you with their originality. Perhaps the most unique and original production in any Sauk season, "Sauk Shorts" guarantees something for everyone. The short plays will be performed September 10-13.

The 2015 Tony Award-winning Best Play "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" is next on the season schedule. 15-year-old Christopher has an extraordinary brain: He is exceptional at mathematics but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched, and he distrusts strangers. Now it is 7 minutes after midnight, and Christopher stands beside his neighbor's dead dog, Wellington, who has been speared with a garden fork. Finding himself under suspicion, Christopher is determined to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington, and he carefully records each fact of the crime. Performances are October 15-18 and 22-25 and is sponsored by Comprehensive Health and Speech Therapy of Jackson.

The season will end December 3-6 and 10-13 with a production of "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus." Inspired by a simple, poignant letter written over 100 years ago by 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon to the editor of the New York Sun-and by the timeless editorial response printed on the front page of the Sun. Virginia wondered and wrote: "Dear Editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says if you see it in the Sun, it's so. Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?" Ed Mitchell, the Sun's editor, gives the assignment of answering Virginia's letter to Frank Church who, until his wife and baby died last Christmas Eve, was the Sun's best and most dependable reporter. This production is sponsored by Jonesville Lumber.

All performances (except "Tony N' Tina's Wedding") take place at the Sauk Theatre, 240 E. Chicago St., Jonesville. Thursday through Saturday performances are at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees performed at 3 p.m. The first performance of each production is a "pay-what-you-can" preview night. Season and individual tickets are available at or by calling (517) 849-9100. You can also find show information and audition dates at the website.

In 2019, over 300 volunteers were involved in the organization's eight productions. The volunteers represent Hillsdale, Branch, Jackson, Lenawee, Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties in Michigan and several areas in Ohio. The entire organization is completely volunteer except a full-time, grant-funded executive director. New volunteers are always encouraged and welcomed.

The 2020 season is sponsored by Expressions Photography & Design. The 2020 media sponsor is Radio Hillsdale, WCSR 92.5. The orchestras for our live musicals are sponsored by Moore Insurance Services.

The Sauk will also host four special events throughout the year. They are:

• "A Hypnotizing Night at The Sauk" - A special family-friendly benefit show featuring world renown hypnotist Dr. Ben Crofchick will be performed at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 2.

• "A Night of Improv Comedy" - GoProv, an improvisational comedy troupe from Indiana, will perform a "Whose Line is it Anyway?" style show at 7:30 p.m. on May 16. Event sponsored by Drews Place Assisted Living Communities.

• The sixth annual Plays-In-Development series will present free staged readings of four new theatrical works. Public readings of "Gravity: A Union" and "Sebastian Rising" will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 10. Public readings of "Clear Blue Sky" and "The Long Wait" will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 11. The public readings are followed by a talkback with the playwrights. This event is sponsored by Country Carpets, Playford Real Estate, Gossage Eye Institute & Optical and Don Toffolo of Edward Jones.

• The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company, Michigan's only professional year-round traveling Shakespeare company, will present "Measure for Measure" at 8 p.m. on Nov. 7. Sponsored by The Bregger Family Trust.

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