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‘The Congressman’ comes to Brooke Playhouse

August 14, 2014
Weirton Daily Times

The Brooke Hills Playhouse will present its annual readers' theater production, W.A. Parker's comedy, "The Congressman," this weekend only, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

The play was adapted for readers' theater and directed by Charles Calabrese of Wintersville.

"The Congressman" tells the story of a crooked politician attempting to redeem himself and his relationship with his family. For reservations, call (304) 737-3344.

Article Photos

‘THE CONGRESSMAN’ – Joseph Pino, left, Walt Warren and ReGina Pino rehearse for the Brooke Hills Playhouse readers’ theater production of W.A. Parker’s comedy, “The Congressman,” to be presented at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For reservations, call (304) 737-3344.

"I've been able to assemble an excellent cast of versatile, veteran actors who enjoy the challenge of readers' theater," Calabrese said. "It's a lot like radio drama except, instead of sound effects, we have a narrator who sets the mood and describes the physical action."

The crucial role of the narrator will be filled by Nancy Longo of Toronto, a playhouse veteran last seen in last summer's "Arsenic and Old Lace." Longo also will play the role of society reporter Edith Peterson. Longo's many acting credits also include the Ohio Valley Cloak and Dagger Company, the Hope Players, the former Steubenville Players, Towngate Theatre and Excalibur Productions.

The title role of Congressman Arthur Lawrence of New York will be played by Joseph Pino of Steubenville, last seen at the playhouse in last summer's readers' theater production of "Between the Acts." Pino also has acting credits with the Hope Players and the Ohio Valley Cloak and Dagger Company. He sang for many years with the former Civic Choral Society.

Congressman Lawrence's virtuous wife, Gertrude, will be portrayed by Pino's real-life spouse, Regina Pino, who just completed a role in the playhouse production of "The Vagina Monologues." Other acting credits include the Hope Players, the former College of Steubenville and the Ohio Valley Cloak and Dagger Company. She also has directed drama camp musicals for the Center of Music and Art for the past two summers.

Walt Warren of Wheeling will play railroad lobbyist and lawyer Frederick Flint, the almost-Satanic-like villain of the piece, the man responsible for corrupting the Congressman. Warren was seen most recently in the season-opening "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike." He also has extensive credits with Ohio University Eastern, Towngate Theater and West Liberty University.

Bob Lane of Steubenville will do double duty as a good guy and a bad guy in the comedy. playing idealistic reporter Frank Landon and crooked political boss Jim Callahan. Lane, who appeared in last season's "Arsenic and Old Lace," has extensive credits with Brooke Hills, the Hope Players, Weirton Community Players, the former Steubenville Players and Striplight Theatre.

The play's romantic subplot involves the Congressman's niece, Marjorie McDonald, an innocent debutante, portrayed by Mary Combs-Young of Weirton, and the Congressman's idealistic aide, George Melville, enacted by Roger VanHorn, also of Weirton.

Combs-Young was last seen at the Playhouse in 2012's "Nothing But the Truth," and VanHorn appeared most recently in last season's "Arsenic and Old Lace" and "Between the Acts." Both have extensive credits with Brooke Hills and Hope Players, with VanHorn also appearing with the Weirton Community Players and Combs-Young at- the former College of Steubenville.

Connie J. Wendel of Glen Dale, just seen in this summer's playhouse production of "The Vagina Monologues," will make her readers' theater debut with "The Congressman," playing unscrupulous newspaper reporter Genevieve McSorley. Wendel also has many credits with Towngate Theatre and Ohio University Eastern.

Playhouse veteran Rob DeSantis of Follansbee will play Marjorie McDonald's father, industrialist Graham McDonald. DeSantis, who directed this summer's playhouse production of "Crimes of the Heart," also has extensive acting credits with the Playhouse, Towngate Theatre, Independent Theatre Collective and Potter Players.

Director-adapter Charles Calabrese has the role of Henderson, the Congressman's loyal butler. Calabrese has acting and directing credits with Brooke Hills, the Hope Players, the former College of Steubenville and Steubenville Catholic Central High School, as well as acting credits with the Ohio Valley Cloak and Dagger Company. He has adapted public domain works for readers theater and written interactive murder mysteries for both Brooke Hills and the Hope Players.

Next up, the Brooke Hills Playhouse's 43rd summer season will close out with Ken Ludwig's comedy-mystery, "The Game's Afoot or, Holmes for the Holidays," directed by Diana Mendel of Wellsburg. The play has real-life Sherlock Holmes portrayer William Gillette hosting a Christmas party at his estate when a murder occurs. Gillette assumes the persona of Holmes in an effort to solve the mystery.

The show will be presented Aug. 22-24 and 29-31. As was the case last season, all Friday and Saturday performances will be at 8 p.m. and all Sunday performances will be 2 p.m. matinees.

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