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McCANN: Pioneer Playhouse to host shortened season beginning Friday

Tired of staying home? Visit Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theater Friday through Aug. 15 to experience theater under the stars.

This year’s abbreviated season will consist of “Maybe Baby It’s You” by Charlie Shanian and Shari Simpson followed by the standup comedy of Lee Cruse.

Dinner is at 7:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8:30 p.m.

Reservations are required, as are masks and social distancing.

Pioneer Playhouse’s office hours during the COVID-19 crisis are limited. Leave a message at 859-236-2747 and calls will be returned quickly.

However, no reservations are accepted after 3 p.m. the day of show.

The play will run through Aug. 15, Tuesdays through Saturdays, at 8:30 p.m. rain or shine.

The Playhouse is located at 840 Stanford Road in Danville.

“Maybe Baby It’s You” is about a mild-mannered Midwesterner whose blind date turns out to be the Greek Goddess of Vengeance; a gorgeous brain surgeon who’s always “Mr. Wrong” because of his wild-and-crazy dancing style; a film noir guy and gal caught in a loop of razor-sharp movie banter and a pair of elderly exes possibly reuniting at their grandson’s soccer game.

Full of song and dance, love and laughter, this comedy takes a tender, funny look at finding your soul mate.

Following the close of this year’s play, Pioneer Playhouse will host its regular stand-up comedy weekend, this year starring Winchester native Lee Cruse, the highly popular TV personality and stand-up comic.

There will be two shows at 8 p.m. nightly Aug. 21-22.

A barbecue dinner with limited seating will be available before all shows this season.

Artistic Director Robby Henson, son of Pioneer Playhouse founder Eben C. Henson, said, “At first, we believed we’d simply be able to delay the 2020 season by two weeks. But based on Gov. Andy Beshear’s guidelines, we made the tough decision to shorten our season even more.”

“It breaks our heart, but it was the only choice to make,” Heather Henson, sister to Robby, and managing director of the family-operated theater, said. “Our patrons are like family to us. We don’t want to put anyone at risk.”

Pioneer Playhouse will offer the same lineup of plays in 2021 as was originally announced for 2020: “All That Brass!” by Holly Hepp-Galvan is a Kentucky Voices original play about Danville’s Great American Brass Band Festival.

“Clue: On Stage,” based on the popular Hasbro board game and the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn, is a comical whodunit at Boddy Manor that takes place on a dark and stormy night.

“Southern Fried Funeral” by Osborne and Eppler is a big-hearted comedy about family — Southern style.

“Jeeves in Bloom,” adapted by Margaret Raether is a delightfully silly comedy based on the stories of PG Wodehouse.

“It’s a terrific group of plays,” Heather said. “We were really excited about our 2020 season. But we’ll put those on hold until next year, and pick a new play for the fifth spot.”

For those who have already purchased tickets or patron’s passes for the 2020 season, refunds are available, but Pioneer Playhouse encourages ticket holders to use all previously bought tickets for “Maybe Baby It’s You,” or to roll over current tickets and passes to the 2021 season.

Another option is to donate 2020 tickets and passes to Pioneer Playhouse, which is a registered non-profit.

To handle exchanges, refunds or to donate your tickets, patrons may email pioneerplayhouse@att.net, write to Pioneer Playhouse, 840 Stanford Road, Danville, KY 40422, or leave a message at 859-236-2747.

Bill McCann is a playwright, poet, flash fiction writer and teacher who writes about arts events and personalities. He can be reached at wmccann273@gmail.com.