If You Go
What: “Fish Eyes”
When: Noon today, and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Dutch Village Inn, 150 E. state Route 14, Columbiana
Tickets: 866-482-5050, ext. 310
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Dinner-theater has returned to Dutch Village Inn.
Ted & Co., a Harrisonburg, Va.-based troupe, will present its original play “Fish Eyes” tonight through Saturday. Its the second of six original plays the theater company is staging at the Inn this year.
Dutch Village regularly offered dinner-theater shows for more than a decade with its resident company 34west Productions. However, 34west moved to Charleston, S.C., after its final production of 2013 to start its own cabaret theater there.
There are plenty of similarities between 34west and Ted & Co.
Both troupes create plays that are based on Bible stories and use a cast of two or three people on the small stage.
“We have been very fortunate in having such a long-standing relationship with 34west and then also in replacing them with such a fine theater company to continue what they began,” said Rose Conrad, marketing manager at Dutch Village Inn.
But there are also significant differences between the two theater companies.
“Ted & Co. are more concerned with the tough things that people go through,” said Grace Witmer-Styer, manager and co-owner of Dutch Village Inn. “Ted isn’t preachy and he doesn’t tell you what to think, but his plays are based on Bible stories and are about human life experiences. He is more about personal experiences, and he’s good at explaining them and how you feel when you go through them. People can relate to it. When they walk away after a show, they might say, ‘I went through that same thing.’”
34west also based much of its work on Bible stories, but the company leaned more toward comedy.
“With Ted & Co., you won’t just laugh,” she said. “You will laugh and cry.”
Ted Swartz is the playwright and director of Ted & Co. His style of humor is similar to comedian Stephen Colbert, said Witmer-Styer. “His humor is quick, clever and intellectual,” she said.
When 34west decided to end its run at Dutch Village, Witmer-Styer knew exactly who to turn to for a replacement. She has long known Swartz because the two attended college together.
“I’ve known Ted and his work as a playwright, comedian and actor for years, and he was the first one I called,” she said.
If “Fish Eyes” sounds familiar, it should. The play, which was written by Ted & Co. a decade ago, had been produced several times over the years by 34west at Easter time.
It tells the story of Jesus’ passion and death as told through the eyes of disciples Peter and Andrew. “Fish Eyes” uses humor and music to make the story more relevant for modern audiences.
“Fish Eyes” is actually the second Ted & Co. production at Dutch Village. In February, the troupe mounted “Excellent Trouble” for three performances.
After this week’s run of “Fish Eyes,” Ted & Co. will present four more plays at Dutch Village Inn.
Here is the schedule:
“Jehovah’s Traveling Trunk Show,” May 21-24 and Aug. 13-16: A tour through stories of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
“St. John’s Revival,” with the Walking Boots Band, June 18-21 and July 16-19: A foot-stomping show in the spirit of “A Prairie Home Companion” that tells the story of a struggling church parish.
“The Jesus Stories,” Sept. 17-20 and Oct. 29-Nov. 1: A fresh look at Gospel stories that find the laughter that Jesus must have found in the people he encountered.
“Just Give ’Em the News,” Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 3-5, 9-14 and 19-20.: A slightly askew musical take on the first Christmas.
For tickets to all shows, call 866-482-5050, ext. 310, or go to dasdutchvillage.com/theater.