Auditions coming for O’Neill comedy

Published 4:10 pm Saturday, December 5, 2009

When Glen Parsons came to Albert Lea in the early 1970s to teach, he didn’t intend to stay long.

But he got involved with Albert Lea Community Theatre.

“The people were so accepting, and we got hooked,” Parsons said. “With the theater, we all had a job to do. I acted with and directed both of our kids. It’s just part of what kept us in town all these years.”

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The first play Parsons was involved in for ACT was “Ah, Wilderness,” the Eugene O’Neill comedy. He had the lead role. This season, Parsons is directing that same show.

He’s holding auditions from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center. The play will be presented Feb. 11-14 and Feb. 17-20.

He’s looking for 14 actors, ranging in age from a 10- or 12-year-old up to middle age. He needs a number of teens and college-age students for the leading roles.

Parsons said he loves the play, which he describes as “a little slice of Americana.” It’s a nostalgic and autobiographical look at American family life at the turn of the century.

“The fact that it’s set in a different time is also part of the charm,” he said.

Over the course of a Fourth of July weekend, a young man has his heart broken, discovers drink and loose women and puts his heart back together again.

According to the director, the play contrasts young love with the enduring affection of the young man’s parents and with the failed relationship of the boy’s alcoholic uncle and spinster aunt.

“This summer, we’re doing ‘The Music Man,’” Parsons said. “This show has the same heart as ‘The Music Man.’ It’s a family with all its foibles.”

The director said he’s also looking for people to work backstage, including people to run the light and sound boards and assist with costuming.

ACT board member Tony Segura said the board has been looking for people to get involved in all aspects of the theater.

In fact, in this year’s brochure, the theater cites the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project’s sense of purpose: “People who have a purpose in life live approximately seven years longer than people who tend to drift through the day. As the makeover guides you in identifying your values, passions and talents, we hope you consider ACT as an outlet for putting these qualities to good use.”

Segura said ACT not only needs actors, dancers, singers and directors, it also needs backstage workers, set-builders, tech crew, painters, make-up artists, ushers, house managers and box office workers.

“I always felt that theater was a great outlet for me,” Segura said. “We have so much fun together. I’ve made a lot of great friends through the theater.”

He said there is a misconception that all of the roles in a show are cast before auditions are held. “Everything is not set in stone,” he said.

Many of the people who are involved in theater have been part of it for many years and are getting tired. “We need some young people to step up,” Segura said.

Any people interested in getting involved in any facet of the theater are encouraged to come to auditions and indicate their interests. If that’s not possible, they can leave their name, phone number and area of interest on the theater’s voice mail, 377-4371. People can also contact a board member. They are: Karen Szymanowski, Terry Fox, Barb Lang, David Behling, Deanne Winegar, Rory Mattson, Steve Schwartz, Bill Schmitt, Tony Segura, Heather Earl, Marlys Broberg, Matt Greibrok, Rosalie Truax and Bill Buege.

“So many people are looking for something to do. I think they’d really enjoy this,” Segura said.