rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 08/26/2007
Outrageous Laughing Stock Opens AE's Season
by Press Release
A guest director from hell, a disastrous opening night for Dracula, and a Hamlet featuring the genuine skull of a theater patron are just some of the complications in Charles Morey’s Laughing Stock, a sidesplitting valentine to summer stock theater.

The Barn Playhouse is headed up by Artistic Director Gordon Page (Stephen F. Vrtol III). The barn in question is over a hundred years old and comes complete with giant mosquitoes and no air conditioning. The play follows the 67th season, with productions of Charley’s Aunt, Dracul: Prince of the Undead, and Hamlet, with Gordon in the title role. Of course, everything that can go wrong, does.

“I’ve worked in three barn theaters,” recalls director Richard Raether, “We performed at night, rehearsed during the day, and scrambled for time to build the sets and costumes, never mind unimportant things like laundry or meals. It’s a hothouse environment and you just pray that everyone gets along and that the line for the only bathroom won’t be too long.”

The AE production features a cast of 15, headed by Steve Vrtol, Linda Abronski, David Gingerich,
Carolyn Cadigan, Jan Bacino, and Gary Wingert.

Charles Morey based the play on his own summers spent performing in a New Hampshire barn, a
time he recalls with great warmth and humor. “I hope what finally comes through Laughing Stock is a genuine affection and respect for those mostly honorable and sometimes inspired fools who inhabit this profession.” Laughing Stock was nominated for the 2001 American Theatre Critics’ Association New Play Award.

Laughing Stock runs in the Maddox Theatre at Rockford College, September 7–16, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. For tickets, call the AE box office, 815-394-5004. Tickets are $26, $24 for seniors and $10 for students. Artists’ Ensemble is Rockford’s only resident Equity professional theater and is on the web at
Contact Information
Artists Ensemble Theater
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