Hudson Players presents free night of virtual Eric Coble short comedies

Kent Weeklies
The cast for one of the shows – "Musical Theatre Geeks!" – had a virtual rehearsal. Pictured, from left: top, Lisa Georges, director  Ellie Kelly and Steve Ingrassia; and bottom, Eric Oswald and Brad Hills.

While the Hudson Players are making plans to resume in-person shows later this year, the group will help fill the local entertainment void by presenting “A Night with Eric Coble,” a virtual evening of two short comedies written by the famed Cleveland-based playwright. The event will be streamed live April 23, 24, and 25, 2021, on Facebook and YouTube. Local Hudson residents can also view the plays on HCTV (Spectrum Channel 1021).

The 10-minute comedies include "Musical Theatre Geeks!" a game show where two musical theater fanatics square off answering musical theater minutia, and "Haunted," where an actress prepares to step onstage in a tiny role only to be visited by four very unfriendly theatrical specters. The event also will include Coble offering pre-recorded comments and insight about his creative process and how living in Cleveland has helped shape his theatre experience.

"Musical Theatre Geeks!" was directed by Ellie Kelly, and features Brad Hills, Steve Ingrassia, Lisa Georges and Eric Oswald in the cast. "Haunted" was directed by Claudia Lillibridge, with Darlene Rocco, Natalie Bauman, Sharon Schaffer, Sean Donovan and Chris Bizub in the cast.

“While pandemic restrictions continue to preclude Hudson Players from presenting live theater, we decided to do a virtual event as a way of entertaining our patrons, and Eric Coble was very gracious to partner with us to make this happen,” says Michelle Dolciato, president, Hudson Players. “We do plan to announce our 2021-22 season very soon, which we plan to present live at the Barlow Community Center starting in the fall, so stay tuned.”

The livestreaming will begin at 8 pm on April 23 and 24 and 2 pm on April 25. For more details and to RSVP for the Facebook event, go to http://fb.me/e/6aj0s5w1U. Viewers can subscribe to the Hudson Players YouTube channel www.youtube.com/channel/UCEzAriUs-StG85QtPEGCXyg. Note that the links for the shows will not be accessible until the first performance.

While the event is being presented free of charge, viewers can consider making a tax-deductible donation through the Hudson Players website at www.HudsonPlayers.com to help support the group as it embarks on its 76th season offering “Good shows, good friends, good times."

A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, Coble was raised on Navajo and Ute reservations in New Mexico and Colorado. With an interest in theater, he ultimately ended up at Ohio University where he earned an MFA in Acting. Along the way he started writing plays and the rest is history.

His "The Velocity of Autumn" was presented on Broadway in 2014. "Bright Ideas," "The Dead Guy," "A Girl’s Guide to Coffee," "My Barking Dog," and "The Giver" are among his shows that have been presented off-Broadway, in all 50 states and on several continents. Some of the noted theaters that have presented Coble’s plays include the Manhattan Class Company, The Kennedy Center, Playwrights Horizons, Area Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, Cleveland Play House, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, and the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota. He is currently a member of the Cleveland Play House Playwrights Unit.

Of his work, the New York Times says “Eric Coble’s hilariously funny, psychologically astute portraits hit home with rib-tickling acuity”; the New Yorker says “Coble’s work is a tour-de-force with physical and verbal comedy to spare”; Variety says “A tidy little gem of comedy insanity. A toy box of a script stuffed with nasty jokes and outrageous situations”; and the Los Angeles Times says, “Adeptly lunatic, a hoot, a superior sitcom with a conscience.”

Coble’s awards include the American Alliance for Theatre & Education Distinguished Play Award for Best Adaptation, an Emmy nomination, the Chorpenning Playwriting Award for Body of Work, the At&T Onstage Award, National Theatre Conference Playwriting Award, an NEA Playwright in Residence Grant, the Cleveland Arts Prize, two Cuyahoga Arts and Culture Fellowships and four Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence grants.

While Hudson Players has not been able to share live theater for more than a year, it has established a Hudson Players Endowment Fund, in conjunction with the Hudson Community Foundation, that will benefit the Hudson community. To make a secure online donation to the Hudson Players Endowment Fund go to https://www.myhcf.org/hudson-players-endowment-fund Donations can be made anonymously or in honor or memory of someone. For any additional questions, email Hudson Players at info@hudsonplayers.com, or call 330-655-8522.