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The cast of the summer season opener at The Players Center for Performing Arts, Cosi.

 

No summer slowdown when it comes to theater at The Players (now officially The Players Centre for Performing Arts). Three shows take to the stage as part of the Summer Sizzler Series, and the company is also bringing audiences the annual New Play Festival and two musicals performed by members of The Players Summer Camp.

First up, starting June 15, is the semi-autobiographical Louis Nowra comedy Cosi, which uses as its starting point Mozart’s famed comic opera Cosi fan tutte. But here the deal is this: A young theater director gets his first job straight out of school, helming a production of the opera…but his cast are all patients from a mental institution, none of whom can speak Italian, or sing. Can he, and they, pull it off? Find out June 15-19 and June 23-26.

Next up is another comedy that plays off a classic, in this case Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano De Bergerac. In Cyrano de Burgershack, the title character is king of the local burger shack, but having trouble wooing the fair Roxanne, who admits to a crush on new burger flipper Christian. Let’s hope for a happier ending than in the original. This show featuring contemporary pop songs takes the stage July 13-17 and 21-24.

The third in the Sizzler Series may be a more familiar work to most; it’s John Van Druten’s Bell, Book and Candle, which was not only a successful Broadway play but a movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, back in 1958. It’s about modern-day witch Gillian, who decides to cast a love spell on a New York publisher engaged to her old college rival. Turns out, though, she may be falling for him herself, which could cause her to lose her witchy powers. Onstage Aug. 10-14 and 18-21.

Also this summer: the new play fest, presenting staged readings of five brand-new works, June 27 through July 1, one of which will win the right to a full production next season. That’s what happened with playwright Llywelyn Jones and his Why Can’t I Be You? last year; now his work about a rock star who wakes up to find a stalker in his bedroom get the full treatment, Aug. 23-28.

And last but not least: The Summer Camp Showcases, which bring the young talent of the theater’s summer camp to the stage. The first, Godspell Jr., an adaptation of the Stephen Schwartz musical about Jesus and his disciples, is presented July 8; the second, Honk Jr., a musical retelling of the classic Ugly Duckling tale, is onstage Aug. 5.

For ticket information about any and all of these shows, call (941) 365-2494 or head to theplayers.org.

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