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Coach House Theatre opened its season with a charming production of "A Thousand Clowns" Sept. 22.
The play, directed by Terry Burgler, centers on Murray Burns (Joe Pine), a young man who, depending on your view, can either be described as a free spirit or overgrown child. Pine brings a lot of energy and charm to the character. Murray has been caring for his nephew Nick (Daniel Colaner), a precocious 11-year-old who has a firmer grasp of reality than his uncle at times.
The affection and caring Murray feels toward Nick is obvious, but is jeopardized by Murray's cavalier attitude toward mundane things like employment and responding to government letters. Murray soon gets a cold dose of reality when two employees with Children's Services show up. Albert Amundson (Record Publishing Co.'s Scott Shriner) and Sandra Markowitz (Kelsey Tomlinson) tell Murray that concerns about Nick's home environment have come up, and that Murray will most likely lose custody. Albert is sympathetic but believes in maintaining a professional distance and offers little hope of keeping Nick with Murray. However, Sandra decides to risk her career to help Murray at the upcoming hearing, leading to a relationship between them. Murray's older brother Arnold (Dan Colaner, the father of Daniel) also tries to help Murray by trying to get Murray's old job of writing for a popular children's show. It winds up being an uphill battle, because Murray can't stand Leo Herman (Jim Fippin), a neurotic man who swings between egotistical and insecure at a moment's notice. In the end, Murray has to decide what is most important in his life: his relationship with Sandra and Nick, or his set of ideals. It's a tough choice for him. The play has plenty of laughs; the ending is a little bittersweet.
"A Thousand Clowns can be seen Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through Oct. 16. Call 888-71-TICKETS (choose "option 1"), or visit www.coachhousetheatre.com for tickets.
Coach House Theatre is at 732 W. Exchange St. in Akron, next to the Akron Woman's City Club.
The next show is "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks" by Richard Alfieri, which will run Nov. 17 through Dec. 11.
Coach House also will have a reading of "Dracula" by Joe Pine Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. The reading is free but reservations are required.