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‘A Bad Year for Tomatoes’ Set to Open This Weekend at Brooke Hills Playhouse

Cast members Connie Wendel, left, and Crystal Sharma rehearse for the Brooke Hills Playhouse production of John Patrick’s comedy, “A Bad Year for Tomatoes,” to be presented this Friday and Saturday and next Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees this Sunday and next Sunday at 2 p.m.

Brooke Hills Playhouse production of John Patrick’s comedy, “A Bad Year for Tomatoes,” opens this weekend with a director and cast enthusiastic about the play and the playwright, according to the show’s director, Diana Mendel of Wellsburg. “Patrick writes authentic characters who are fully developed, with depth and layers, so they are enjoyable to play,” Mendel said.

“A Bad Year for Tomatoes” will be presented at 8 p.m. today and Saturday (Aug. 16-17) and next Friday and Saturday (Aug. 23-24) with matinees at 2 p.m. this Sunday and next Sunday (Aug. 18 and 25) at 2 p.m. Reservations are available by calling or texting the Playhouse at 304-737-3344. Municipal Mutual Insurance is the Playhouse’s 48th season sponsor.

“A Bad Year for Tomatoes” tells the story of actress Myra Marlowe, who escapes the big city to settle in a small New England town to write her autobiography, despite the pleas of her agent and constant interruptions by nosy neighbors, a local psychic and a country bumpkin suitor. Her life is complicated further by an imaginary, mad sister and a suspicious sheriff.

Even though the play was written in 1975, long before 24-hour cable news and the explosion of the online world, Mendel contends that the desire to escape to a simpler, less intrusive lifestyle remains relevant today.

“Who in her right mind, after sloshing through the horrid Hollywood rat race, wouldn’t want to give it all up to experience the fruits of nature in peace and harmony?” Mendel asked. “It’s a story about taking your success and retiring from the competition in life and work and focusing on the simple, of finding your heart and following it,” she continued.

Mendel noted that the cast members of “A Bad Year for Tomatoes” are able to relate to the characters in the comedy. “They find them relatable in the silliest and funniest means available to them as performers,” she observed.

Three of the cast members of the current production of “A Bad Year for Tomatoes,” Regina and Joseph Pino of Steubenville and Michelle Turner of Wintersville, also appeared in the Playhouse’s first production of the play in 2009, although they played different roles then.

Mendel, who did not see the 2009 production, said that the actors’ past experience with the comedy did not influence her decision to cast them in the current version of the show. “They came, they read, and together we decided upon the roles that they would ultimately play,” she recalled.

After “A Bad Year for Tomatoes,” the Playhouse’s 48th season will close with Ken Ludwig’s award-winning comedy, “Lend Me a Tenor,” the weekends of Sept. 20-22 and 27-29.

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