The title character of "Auntie Mame" is known for her exuberance and joie de vivre, so it seems fitting that Actors-In-Theatre in Cuyahoga Falls is staging the play as a part of its 30th anniversary celebration.
Director Mary Kay Dente said that her history with the show goes back a long way.
"Both Kristen [Smith, co-director and Vera Charles] and I did it in high school," Dente said, adding that she attended Cuyahoga Falls High School and Smith went to Stow-Munroe Falls High School in different years. "I was the student director and she designed the show for a class."
"Auntie Mame" tells the story of the free-spirited Mame, who winds up adopting her young nephew after his parents die. The story spans a period of several years.
Smith said she had a class in school which required her to execute a theatrical production without producing it. She chose "Auntie Mame," and designed elements such as costumes and sets for the play.
"It's a lot of fun," Smith said of helping with the show. "This is a great, energetic cast."
Dente said "Auntie Mame" was a favorite show of the late Marcy Grosswiller, one of the founders of ANTIC, "and you can see why."
"It reminds me of my mom, who reminded me of Auntie Mame, and Marcy," Dente said.
Dente said there was "a very good crop of actors" for the play.
"The action in the beginning shows just how crazy her life is without her nephew," Dente said. "She gets attached to him and even settles down a bit, although not entirely. By the last scene she also learns to let go."
Sheri Lynn Schneider of Cuyahoga Falls, who plays Mother Burnside and Doris Upson, said that this show "has been on my bucket list to do for some time."
"Auntie Mame is just a strong character," Schneider said. "She lives life to the fullest, like everyone should."
Mark Brown of Cuyahoga Falls, who plays Ito, said that the play was a "very comic show."
"We have a nice mix of veteran and new actors," Brown said. "Mame [Becky Campbell] and Sally Cato [Kristina Lee] are new. We are always welcoming new people. We have other actors with professional experience. Darius [Mousavi, who plays multiple roles] is studying to be a professional actor, but he comes back in the summer to appear in shows with us."
Matthew Smith of Stow, who has been in seven previous shows at ANTIC, said that "Auntie Mame" was "easily my favorite." He plays several roles, including Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside.
"It's just organized chaos," he said. "The hunt scene is my favorite. I also have fun yodeling as I fall to my doom."
Dente, one of the founders of ANTIC along with Grosswiller and Liz Hickman, said that ANTIC is celebrating its 30th year as a theater organization and its 20th year in its permanent home in Quirk Cultural Center.
"We were actually put near the river," Dente said of ANTIC's early days. "We had an amphitheater. But it was also by the highway. You try doing a show with traffic continuously going by!"
For several years, ANTIC also did murder mysteries, Dente said.
"That was Marcy," Dente said, who added Grosswiller often wrote and directed the productions.
Dente credited Grosswiller for her efforts to find a permanent home for the theater group.
"We are very lucky to have a permanent space," she said. "When she died, she reached many of the goals she set. Our goals, the goals of the founders, are to keep it going."
Brown said his wife Lynn first became involved with ANTIC with the theater's 1996 production of "A Christmas Carol." He initially became involved in 2007 when he was asked to run sound for a show. Brown said he is now more involved, including appearing onstage and taking photographs of the productions, and he will be making his directorial debut this fall at ANTIC with "12 Angry Jurors."
"There have been minor changes," Brown said of ANTIC. "A lot has been here the whole time. It's a testament that we have carried on with what the folks before have started."
Ticket and show information
"Auntie Mame" will run Aug. 9 through 17 on Fridays and Saturdays, with shows starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and $6 for seniors and children under 12.
Quirk Cultural Center is at 1201 Grant Ave. in Cuyahoga Falls. For details, email email@example.com, or visit www.antictheatre.org.