Playhouse presents ‘A Bad Year for Tomatoes’

FINAL WEEKEND — Crystal Sharma, left, Michelle Turner and Joseph Pino rehearse for the Brooke Hills Playhouse production of John Patrick’s comedy, “A Bad Year for Tomatoes,” to be presented at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. -- Contributed

WELLSBURG — The Brooke Hills Playhouse production of John Patrick’s comedy “A Bad Year for Tomatoes” closes this weekend with a director and cast who’ve bonded over mutual trust and the fun of doing the show, according to director Diana Mendel of Wellsburg.

“I am aware of the genuine talent each of my cast members possesses, they trust me and do what I ask of them, but we all just want our show to be full of fun, and it is! “ Mendel said.

“It is so comforting to know that every little direction I give is taken and performed beyond my wildest dreams, because they are all that great,” she continued.

“A Bad Year for Tomatoes” will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are available by calling or texting the playhouse at (304) 737-3344. Municipal Mutual Insurance is the sponsor of the season sponsor.

Th play tells the story of actress Myra Marlowe, who escapes the big city to settle in a small New England town to write her autobiography, despite the pleas of her agent and constant interruptions by nosy neighbors, a local psychic and a country bumpkin suitor. Her life is complicated further by an imaginary, mad, sister and a suspicious sheriff.

Mendel, who did not see the playhouse’s first production of the show in 2009, was drawn to directing it.

“The universe kept sending me messages about ‘A Bad Year for Tomatoes,'” she explained. “When our board was searching for shows for this season, it showed up alphabetically, and when I noticed it was being produced by the Daytona Playhouse, I ended up stage managing that production, so the next natural step was to direct it at Brooke Hills Playhouse.”

Mendel has been acting, directing and writing for the theater since 1983, when she made her playhouse debut in “The Solid Gold Cadillac,” and she says she wants others to enjoy the experience.

“I had never performed previously other than in high school, and Brooke Hills gave me the lead role,” she recalled. “We who are involved now have to keep giving those who want to perform the venue and the opportunity.”

Mendel said that the love of theater is another thing that bonds her with the cast.

“The art of storytelling through the stage is priceless, universally bonding and uniting,” adding, “We are all in this life together, and theater reminds us of that.”

Mendel wants that spirit to extend to everyone who comes to see “Tomatoes,” or any other playhouse production.

“I feel a great responsibility to this playhouse, to see it continue, to make the community realize what a treasure it has right in its own back yard and that the talent here is comparable to, and even surpasses, what I have seen in other places,” she concluded.

The playhouse’s 48th season will close with Ken Ludwig’s award-winning comedy, “Lend Me a Tenor,” Sept.20-22 and 27-29.

Donations to the playhouse’s “Save the Barn” campaign to repair and update the pre-Civil War facility may be sent to P.O. Box 186, Wellsburg, WV 26070, writing “Save the Barn” on the memo line of the check or money order.