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The curtain rises on the 12th season at Lewisville’s West Side Civic Theatre

by Mark Burger

This Friday, the West Side Civic Theatre (Shallowford Square, Lewisville) will open its 12th season with its production of Cinderella, followed by Children of Eden in September. John S. Rushton, who founded the West Side Civic Theatre (WSCT) with his wife Joy Dorsey-Rushton, serves as the theater’s artistic director and has directed every show since its inception, while Joy has served as musical director on most of them. They’ve also trod the boards as actors from time to time.

For Cinderella — “it’s the Rodgers & Hammerstein version, not the Walt Disney version,” noted Rushton — he will again be directing and Joy will again be supervising the musical direction. He joked that he cast himself in the title role. “It’s going to be a very different interpretation,” he deadpanned. “We’re really giving it a different look.”

Originally, long-time WSCT favorite Elizabeth Robinett had been cast as Cinderella, and pre-production was going smoothly — until the first day of rehearsal, when Robinett broke her leg.

“When I say, ‘Break a leg,’ it’s just a theater expression,” quipped Rushton.

Nevertheless, as both a teacher and friend, as well as a director who has worked with her numerous times, “it’s a tragic situation,” said Rushton. “We had to replace her. Elizabeth’s been with us [at WSCT] since she was 13 years old, and this was going to be her transition to young-adult roles.”

Like another theatrical expression, the show must go on, and the need for a replacement was solved by the production’s prince, Josh Collier, an opera student at the School of Music at the UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. Fellow opera student Allison Chickering, whom he’s dating (rather appropriate, given the show!), makes her WSCT debut in the role.

There were hopes that a rapid recovery would have allowed Robinett to play the role on the second weekend. She has attended rehearsals and offered her services as Chickering’s understudy, but it looks as if her injury will prevent this. Nevertheless, Rushton noted, he expects to work again soon with her.

“Absolutely,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that the situation worked out this way. She’s been great about it.”

For its second show this summer, the WSCT is presenting Children of Eden, a musical extravaganza based on the Book of Genesis in the Bible, with music and lyrics by three-time Oscar and Grammy Award winner Stephen Schwartz and book by two-time Tony Award winner John Caird.

“It’s a very ambitious show,” observed Rushton, “with a very ambitious score but an incredible one. It’s a hard show to do and it’s not well-known… [but] once you see it, it’s like, ‘Wow!’” Even with the hard work (and good times) devoted to the West Side Civic Theatre, that’s no guarantee that a live theater will thrive and survive — even one that charges no admission. Its ongoing success gratifies and amazes Rushton.

“It still does,” he said. “It’s a real testament to the town. A lot of people have worked very hard to bring us to where we are today.”

Although the theater’s core audience does indeed hail from Lewisville and Clemmons, “we have gotten audiences from all over the Triad,” Rushton said. “People come and see how cool Lewisville is.”

Reflecting on 12 years of the WSCT, “it’s always a challenge but the execution is a little easier,” said Rushton, adding that coasting on past successes is not an option. “Each show has to be better than the last one, so to speak.”

Of course, as Shallowford Square is an open-air venue, the possibility of rain is always a concern. But Rushton vowed that the weather this summer will be perfect on every performance night. “It’d better be!” Cinderella will run through June 12.

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday and June 10-12 (Thursday through Saturday). Admission, as previously noted, is free.

For more information about the West Side Civic Theatre, check out the official website: www.westsidecivictheatre.com.

To promote the upcoming release of the bigscreen adaptation of the popular DC Comics character Jonah Hex, Warner Premiere Digital is releasing the online video series Jonah Hex

 

Motion Comics, which is available on iTunes, Amazon Video on Demand, Sony Playstation, Xbox Live/Zune Market Place and other online digital distributors.

The series will include three Jonah Hex comic books — “Two Gun Mojo,” “The Hangin’ Woman” and “The Gunfighter” — and episodes are being premiered each week up to the June 18 release of the feature film, which stars Academy Award nominees Josh Brolin (he’s Jonah Hex), John Malkovich and Michael Shannon, as well as Megan Fox, who hasn’t received an Oscar nomination (yet?) but has won a Teen Choice Award.

The online video series features popular voiceover actor Jim Cummings (Titan AE, Shrek) as Jonah Hex. The series is rated TV Mature. Given that the title character is a hardbitten, emotionally and physically scarred gunslinger in the wild West, it’s pretty evident what that mature content is.

This marks the latest of several successful Motion Comics series from Warner Premiere, which have included Batman: Black & White, Batman: Bad Love, Camelot 3000, Watchmen and Frank Miller’s Ronin.

For more information about the Jonah Hex movie, see www.Jonah-Hex.com. For more information about DC Comics, check out the official website: www.dccomics.com.

wanna go?

West Side Civic Theatre www.westsidecivictheatre.com.

Jonah Hex movie www.Jonah-Hex.com.

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