Alton Little Theater's theme for January and February is Love Is In The Air.
The theater will present two romantic comedies between Jan. 21 and Feb. 14. First up is “Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” Neil Simon's first big Broadway hit. The production focuses on Barney Cashman, portrayed by Brant McCane, a 47-year-old owner of a seafood restaurant who is afraid the sexual revolution of the 1960s is passing him by. Over nine months, he invites three women to his mother's Manhattan apartment in an attempt to have an afternoon of extramarital sex. None of the affairs is consummated, however, and Barney decides (after producing many laughs) that he'd rather have a romantic afternoon with his wife. In ALT's production, Tanya Fox, Jennifer Pratt and Shawn Chevalier aptly take on the roles of three very different women that Barney seeks out. Director Jean Heil has embraced Simon's comedic and serious levels and points out that the playwright often seems to hope to "reform" by engaging in ridicule of the human need to be popular and loved. The audience ends up rooting for the ineptitude of the would-be philanderer who initially wants to cast off his description by others as "nice" – but nice turns out not to be so bad in a show often hailed as funny and touching.
ALT is not recommending the production for audience members younger than 18 because of strong language and adult themes. The production runs for eight performances Jan. 21-31.
In February, ALT will present three performances of the Midwest premier of “Panache” on Valentine's weekend: a bonus fundraiser with a $14 ticket and a little chocolate thrown in with the contemporary tale of redemption, second chances, smooth jazz, inspiring art and love between two unlikely people. Lee Cox will direct the February offering and Kevin Frakes, Lief Anderson, Valerie Sprague and Nick Trapp will join Lee in staging what she calls the most "compelling and charming love story I've come across."
Tickets are available at www.altonlittletheater.org or (618) 462-3205. The phone lines are open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Adult tickets are $17.