Portage Theatre crosses 'River' before hiatus

2012-06-06T12:00:00Z 2012-06-07T11:23:17Z Portage Theatre crosses 'River' before hiatusBy Tim Shellberg Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 06, 2012 12:00 pm  • 

The importance of family — a major theme the comedy "Over the River and Through the Woods" — is extended offstage for Portage Community Theatre director Stanlee Hodsden.

"'Over The River' is a show very near and dear to my heart," she said. "I first worked it at the Theatre at the Center in Munster where I met an incredible cast and we became lifelong friends. I first directed it at 4th Street Theatre in Chesterton 10 years ago and again made lifelong friends. The show has a way of doing that. It's about family."

Opening June 8 and running through June 23 at Portage Yacht Club, "River" tells the tale of Nick, a young man close with both sets of grandparents and whose weekly Sunday dinner ritual is threatened when Nick is offered a job out of state.

Penned by Joe DiPietro, whose past works include hits such as "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," "The Thing About Men" and, most recently, "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "River" made its stage debut Off–Broadway in 1994 and has been a hit with theater companies big and small throughout the country ever since.

Due to circumstances between Portage Community Theatre and the City of Portage in regard to the prop room space used by the theater company at Portage Yacht Club, the company has suspended the remainder of their 2012 season.

Hodsden described the company's hiatus following their production of "River" as a "little intermission." It is currently unknown whether the company will resume their craft at Portage Yacht Club or at another venue.

"Theater brings a quality of life to a town that brings people together, educates, creates laughter, encourages creativity and is definitely a passion dear to my heart," she said. "Theater isn't a building, its people, and the theater family will continue to produce the quality of show that we always have.

Dean Perrine of Chesterton plays Nick in Portage Community Theatre's "River" and is joined onstage by Lansing's Earle Howe as grandfather Frank, Portage's LuAnne Pezel as grandmother Aida, Chesterton 's Kevin Doler as grandfather Nunzio and Crown Point's Kathy Rosdil and grandmother Emma.

"I have a great cast and crew, wonderful people who have become my friends and the laughter each night of rehearsal has helped relieve the stress of packing up 12 years of costumes and props," Hodsden said. "This show makes the unexpected journey our theater is taking 'Over the River and Through the Woods' to a storage unit much easier."

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