By Mike Chaiken
If you’re looking for good, clean fun on stage for the entire family, Southington Community Theatre has just what you’re looking for, said director Heidi Bass Lamberto.
On Feb. 21, the local theater group opens the 1956 musical, “L’il Abner,” which is based on the longtime cartoon strip of the same name by Al Capp.
The musical played on Broadway in 1956 and has been performed oodles of times over the years by community groupssimilar to Southington Community Theatre.
“I thought the world was ready for a blast back to a more wholesome time of life,” said Lamberto.
In addition to something for the audience, Lamberto said, “I also wanted a show that all ages could participate. Some shows limit youth, and others limit adults. This one seem to encompass all ages.”
Lamberto said she was already familiar with “L’il Abner” before SCT decided to take it on.
“I saw the show performed at Southington High School many years ago when I was first involved in local theater,” said Lamberto. “My closer connection to it was remembering it as a cartoon strip and a set of characters that all Americans knew, just like Annie and Daddy Warbucks. I remembered the songs, they have a way of sticking with you.”
Asked how SCT is putting its own little mark on the show, Lamberto was a bit coy.
“I am not even sure I can spoil that,” said Lamberto. “You really need to come to see the show. I feel very confident that no other theater group including Broadway has had the magic ingredient I have to keep the audience laughing.”
But she did offer one oblique hint.
“Look for J. T. Cornpone,” said Lamberto.
Lamberto was more than willing to extol the virtues of the cast that will be entertaining the audiences with “L’il Abner.”
“The strength of this cast and crew is that they truly know how to have fun,” said Lamberto. “They are hardworking and motivated to do their best. Each cast and crew member has been asked to do some extra work and all have replied with a OK. I enjoy watching them work off of one another. One cast member does something, and that ups the ante for the rest of the cast to follow suit. And, boy, do they follow.”
“L’il Abner” takes the audiences into the fictional world of Dogpatch. And Lamberto said the audience will ride right along in the journey to his universe.
“The creators of ‘L’il Abner’ are amazing. I originally chose this show thinking it was a wholesome family show, which it is; however as I read and reread the script, I was amazed at the sharp wit directed at the government, the focus on the human desire to have more and be more, and the fact that those themes are ongoing and always prevelant when it comes to the human race.”
“People need a laugh, people need to hope, people need to get happy endings,” said Lamberto. “That is what happens and that is why people will come and that is why they will tell others to come.”
“L’il Abner” will be performed by Southington Community Theatre on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday—Feb. 21 to 23—at Southington High School, 720 Pleasant St., Southington. Tickets are $15 at the door, or you can purchase them in advance at the following locations for a discount price of $12: Just for You Country Gifts, 979 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, Southington, (860)628-8948 or The Music Shop, 405 Queen St., Southington, (860) 628-7878.