Little Theatre show opens March 17

Little Theatre show opens March 17
Lee Elliott

Brendan Wiandt, left, Logan Harper and Michael Antonelli enact a scene from “A General Cause of Death.”


Author, director and actor Shawn Clay is providing a new perspective to the Little Theatre of Tuscarawas County’s 2023 season this weekend with a three-day presentation of an original script.

The piece, “A General Cause of Death,” is a mystery spoof of the Peter Sellers style and includes parodies of well-known songs. “The main character is Glenn Ferrari, who we hope will give the audience the impression they have known him before,” Clay said.

As the director of Little Theatre Original Productions, Clay has a core of about eight people who write and present plays throughout the community. “People come and go,” he said. “Sometimes we have a small group. Other times, like this production, we are very large.”

Clay said the group evolved in 2016 during a road trip when he and his wife Melanie were creating characters they might use in a skit. He decided to try to expand the short idea to a half-hour sitcom serial, and Original Productions was born.

“We perform all over the community,” he said, “in nursing homes, clubs and for service organizations. Each year we hold a dinner show at the county senior citizen center. This year’s production at the theater is our largest. It runs about two hours with an intermission. My inspirations come from the old, funny serial movies, full of silly jokes, physical gags and prat-falls.”

“A General Cause of Death” takes place in the 1980s, replete with pastel colors and gold chains. Everyone still smokes — everywhere. Private detective Glenn Ferrari has just learned a ruthless criminal he helped capture is going to be released following the sudden death of a state’s witness. Ferrari must shake off his hangover, kiss his girlfriends goodbye and spring back into action. Can he right the wrongs caused by the evil Gen. Dictator, or will the general succeed in his diabolical plan?

The cast includes Logan Harper, Glenn Ferrari; Noah Beachy, Buddy Goodman; Haley Kimble, Mandy/Candy; Michael Antonelli, Gen. Dictator; Brendan Wiandt, Romero; Duane Mann, Mr. Truncheon; Nicole Graham, Marti Backman; Samantha White, Funeral Woman; Melanie Clay, Chief Spinster; Maya Lewis, Bert; Ellie Zumbach-Harper, Consuela; Jack Thomas, Brad Radkowski; Meghan Miller, Joyce/Carrioca; Jack Pottmeyer, Bartender; Sherrel Rieger, Apeepram Urmur; Chester Boffo, Rod Mercury; Malarie Chineal, Shirley Goodman; Francis Brogan, Doctor; Kate Miller, Ivana Krotchlikka; and Jason Kukwa, Mayson Kukwa and Duane Mann as police officers.

Ensemble players are Michelle Gooding, Alison Linkenhoker, Kathy Korns, Nicole Graham, Samantha White, Haley Kimble, Caitlin Allshouse and Meghan Miller as the Rad Pad Crew; Michelle Gooding, Kathy Korns, Jason Kukwa, Jack Pottmeyer and Alison Linkenhoker as Funeral Goers; and Michael Antonelli, Duane Mann, Mayson Kukwa, Logan Harper, Alison Linkenhoker, Sherrel Rieger and Chester Boffo in the opening number.

The artistic staff includes Clay as director; Mary Clay, assistant director; Halle Holmes, stage manager; Breanna Gilbert, Juli Boman and the Rad Pad Crew, backstage crew; Jack Pottmeyer, set design; Joe Compton, lighting design; Shawn Clay and Don Irvin, sound design and tech; Logan Harper and Jerry Waltz, sound production; Shawn Clay and the cast and crew, costumes; and Kettie Kneuss, props and producer.

Clay expressed special thanks to the theater for giving the group a chance to show what is possible regarding in-house productions and the Dover Moose Lodge #707 for sponsoring the show and allowing the group rehearsal space.

“I hope everyone leaves the theater with huge smiles on their faces,” he said.

Have viewers seen the last of Glenn Ferrari, or will he return to the stage for “Glenn Ferrari in Death by the Red Hand?”

“A General Cause of Death” will run Friday and Saturday, March 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 19 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased through Kent State Performing Arts box office, at or at the door. The Little Theatre is located at 466 Carrie Ave. NW in New Philadelphia.

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