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Strong acting featured in OSF’s ‘Lone Star’

2/16/2017 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

Ryan Zarecki, left, and Derrick Winger star in Ohio Shakespeare Festival’s “Lone Star.”
Photo: Tess Burgler
DOWNTOWN AKRON — If ya like them good ol’ boys from the South, y’all gonna like Ohio Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Lone Star,” which is playing at Greystone Hall.

This three-man play is a salute to the South, southern dreams and, maybe, what life’s about.

Playwright James McLure (1951-2011) wrote this rib-ticklin’ story of Roy (Ryan Zarecki) and his brother Ray (Derrick Winger) as they sit in the backyard of a small-town Texas bar, the Angel Bar. Roy fought in the Vietnam War; his brother couldn’t go because of a high school football injury. Roy loves three things — his country, his wife and his 1959 pink Thunderbird convertible. Ray loves his brother and wants to be just like him.

Roy brags about his participation in the war in Vietnam and does some funny re-enactments of his work there. And he dearly loves his car and delights in bragging about his sexual adventures in that wonderful vehicle.

Despite talking about loving his wife, he never speaks her name and he spends his nights behind the Angel Bar, not with his wife. You have to admit, there’s much to be said about the back of the Angel Bar. Out back there, Roy has a case of cold Lone Star Beer and he can look up and see the stars. His 1959 Pink Thunderbird convertible is safely parked in front of the bar. What more can a man ask for?

Roy wants things to be the way they were before he went to Vietnam. He wants the war to be a hiccup in his life and on his return he would pick up life as it was before he left. Unfortunately for Roy, friends have married, moved away and changed.

Cletis (Jeremy Jenkins) represents everything Roy dislikes. They were in school together and now Cletis manages the local appliance store and wears penny loafers. Cletis has a wife, a job and dresses fairly well. Each wants what the other has.

The cast is composed of three actors at the top of their games. Zarecki is also the fight director. I have grown to be in awe of his talents. This production gives him a chance to show more of his skills. He sets the standards for physical humor. Yet, I do enjoy hearing him tell a story from the stage. He’s good.

Winger is the perfect sidekick and wingman. He reminds me of a true good ol’ boy from way deep South. He’s a fine actor for being able to evoke that geography.

Jenkins grasps the soul of the man who doesn’t fit in. He doesn’t fit behind the Angel Bar. He’s not a good ol’ boy. He’s going to manage an appliance store forever.

“Lone Star” is a naughty comedy. I’ve not laughed out loud as much at a play in a long, long time. The audience seemed to be having a great time.

Be warned, the script is filled with adult language — strong adult language, used repeatedly.

The show is presented by the Ohio Shakespeare Festival. “Lone Star” has nothing to do with William Shakespeare. Roy, Ray and Cletis wouldn’t know a Hamlet from an omelet. But, that’s OK.

Director Nancy Cates led her team of rowdy boys through the southern tradition of storytelling and a minefield of dirty words and we all had a good time because of her work.

When the curtain call ended, I wished the audience and the cast could go up on the stage and tell a few stories. The performance runs only an hour, which is plenty of time for all of us to sit out behind the Angel Bar and talk.

“Lone Star” is running in repertory with “The Upstart Crow” and has performances Feb. 16 and 18. “The Upstart Crow” runs Feb. 17 and 19.Greystone Hall is located at 103 S. High St.

For tickets, call 888-718-4253.


David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Cleveland Critics Circle.

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