Local theater group opens new production

On Feb. 24, the 4 Community Theatre group will open its 19th anniversary season with Paul Zindel’s play “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” at the Orono Middle School Auditorium (800 N. Old Crystal Bay Rd., Long Lake, MN). Audiences will have four other opportunities to see this award-winning play, at Orono Middle School on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 26 at 1:30 p.m., and the following weekend at Delano Middle School (700 Elm Ave East, Delano, MN) on March 4 at 7 p.m. and March 5 at 1:30 p.m.

“The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” tells the story of Tillie, a hopeful and focused dreamer who struggles to keep her aspirations alive amidst the chaos of her home life, controlled by a desperate mother unfamiliar with love and a rebellious sister. Tensions are elevated on the night of the school science fair, where Tillie is hoping to be acknowledged for her project on the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds. First published in 1970, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and the Obie Award for Best American Play.

The group’s artistic director, Jack Neveaux, will direct the production featuring Maia Larson, Nancy Lipinski, Lilly Maeder, Margo Steffel and Hannah Paulsen. The play will feature scenery designed by Neveaux, costumes designed by Claudia Kelly and Mary Senneka, and lights designed by Andrew Lunceford.

Paul Zindel is a Pulitzer Prize winning author, playwright and screenwriter. He began his career as a high school chemistry teacher before changing paths in 1969 to write novels. Zindel wrote from his own point of view; coming from a difficult upbringing, he stated that he felt he could do more for teenagers by writing for them. His first novel, “The Pigman,” was followed by several other influential books for teen readers. His screenplays include “Marigolds,” the film adaptation of his award-winning play directed by Paul Newman as well as “Up The Sandbox” starring Barbra Streisand, and “Mame” starring Lucille Ball.

The 4 Community Theatre season will continue with a summer musical presentation of Roald Dahl’s Willie Wonka (July 21-23 and 28-30) performed at the Orono High School Auditorium.

Individual tickets are $15 for all performances. Seniors (62 and older) are discounted to $12, and students 18-years-old and under with student ID are $8. Group rates for 10 or more. Please note this play is not recommended for ages under 14-years-old.