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In the intimate setting of the Olde Main Theater in Latrobe, “Full Bloom” will take play-goers into a living room where the characters will wrestle with society’s obsession with physical appearance and the fallout it causes.

A joint production of the Cabaret Theatre of Latrobe and the 13Players theater group, the play will be staged Aug. 30 through Sept. 2 in the theater, also knows as New Song Studio, at 350 Main St.

Director Leigh Anne Jerz says she was drawn to playwright Suzanne Bradbeer’s script because “it spoke to a lot of issues I saw teens going through, both my own and other people’s. It has strong roles for both teens and adults.

“The drama is focused on how society judges by appearances: youth and beauty, and the unhealthy pressure it puts on young and old, men and women, black and white — especially women,” she says.

In the living room will be the characters of Phoebe, a teen who seems withdrawn after a trip to Italy; her mother Jane, whose husband has left her for a younger woman; Phoebe’s friend Jesse, an African-American teen adjusting to a new city and school; neighbor Crystal, an actress contemplating plastic surgery to compete with younger actresses; and Crystal’s husband, Jim, a New York City firefighter whose work presents many existential challenges.

“All the characters are facing major life challenges,” Jerz says. “It’s interesting to find that, even in a family with abilities, talents and advantages, you can struggle with these issues and other traumatic life events. What interested me is, how do we as adults mentor the next generation if we haven’t come to terms with our own self-esteem issues?

“Phoebe is showing signs of depression,” she says. “Will the other characters notice and intervene before it becomes a crisis?” (read the full article)

Geyer production ‘Dani Girl’ offers inspiration to those touched by cancer

Dani Girl

Vinny Tresco (left) of Plum, Carolyn Jerz, 13, of Unity Township and Matthew Hommel, 16, of Monroeville rehearse a scene from ‘Dani Girl.’ The unique musical will make its Westmoreland County debut starting Thursday at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale.

The Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale is teaming with 13Players for the Westmoreland County debut of the musical “Dani Girl.”

“It’s a wonderful show. It’s very entertaining and very well-written. I trained in the classics of the theater, and I love how it is written. It would be a wonderful show without the music, but it has wonderful music enhancing the experience,” director Leigh Anne Jerz of Unity said.

Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond’s “Dani Girl” is the first full-length musical/dramatic comedy produced by the creators of “Judge Jackie Justice.” The unique musical follows the friendship and struggles of 10-year-olds Dani, a girl, and Marty, a boy, battling cancer. Moments of realism in the hospital alternate with flights of imagination, as Dani sweeps Marty into her games and adventures, populated by a host of characters, all played by the same male lead, that range from her guardian angel and playmate Raph to the nasty, menacing embodiment of cancer. –Linda Harkcom, Tribune-Review (read the full article)

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