Stage Door: Mauritius and Stalag 17

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It's funny how one or two words can convey many different meanings. Take the word Mauritius. If you know your geography, it's an island in the Indian Ocean east of Africa. If you're a stamp collector, it's one of the first places in the world where postage stamps were issued — and it's where some of the rarest stamps originated, today worth millions of dollars.

If you're Cincinnati-born playwright Theresa Rebeck, it's an inspiration for an edgy comic drama about two half-sisters and some eager stamp experts fighting over a stamp collection. And if you're a theatergoer, Mauritius, the title of Rebeck's play, means you'll be lining up to see Ensemble Theatre's latest production. It's a great script, profane and funny, yet also insightful and sad about how human nature works — or doesn't.—-

[Note: Photo is (L-R) Sara Macke, Michael Bath and Annie Fitzpatrick. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.]

Like all ETC shows, this one only has a three-week run, so I'd suggest you go see it this weekend before tickets become scarce. Almost every show at the Over-the-Rhine theater this season has been well received, and this is yet another solid outing featuring great local professional actors. Don't miss it. Check out my review here. Tickets: 513-421-3555.

And a footnote: How about a word and a number? Stalag 17 is a 1951 play by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trczinski about World War II prisoners of war. (It was also a 1953 movie starring William Holden and the inspiration for the TV series Hogan's Heroes.) One of Cincinnati's fine community theaters, Mariemont Players, has brought the show back to life. I had the pleasure of attending the final dress rehearsal on March 19, an opportunity to honor several men who fought in WWII and were imprisoned in the Nazi prison camp that gave the play and movie their names. Even more intriguing and of local interest, in attendance was Geme Meese, a man who grew up on Cincinnati's East Side and later became a prisoner.

Fascinatingly, he attended elementary school at Plainville School No. 7, which today happens to be the home of Mariemont Players on Walton Creek Road, just about 100 yards north of Wooster Pike between Mariemont and Terrace Park. Mr. Meese was in attendance on Thursday evening, and he was honored with a standing ovation. This show opens this weekend and runs through April 5, and Mariemont Players frequently sells out its 125-seat space in the old schoolhouse. But if you can get a ticket, you'll find an interesting piece of history on display — with some meaningful local connections. The show's director, Garry Davidson, has also created a video, Tribute to a Kriegie, that features Mr. Meese and offers more about the men who were POWs; it's being shown after each performance. Tickets: 513-684-1236.

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