(Ben Hartman (l) and Sarah Bell (r) as Leon and Sophia)

RiverStage is excited to be gearing up for its second show of the season, Neil Simon’s comedy Fools at the Campus Theatre, 413 Market Street in Lewisburg on Friday, March 8 at 7:30pm, Saturday, March 9 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, March 10, 2:30pm.

Fools by Neil Simon, which premiered on Broadway in 1981, tells the story of an energetic young schoolteacher, Leon, who takes a new job in an idyllic small town in the Ukraine in the 1890’s.  After arriving, he discovers that the inhabitants have been cursed for 200 years with chronic stupidity and foolishness.  To complicate matters further, Leon also falls in love with his boss’s beautiful daughter, Sophia, who is already being pursued by the richest man in town.  But with help from the village’s other colorful residents, Leon sets out to break the curse, save the town, and live happily ever after.  CBS-TV praised Fools as “bright, fresh, funny, witty, warm” and “the happiest to-do on Broadway.”  

This production features an all-star cast of 10 talented actors from across the Susquehanna Valley.  Ben Hartman who recently appeared as Puck in Gaspipe Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, plays Leon, the optimistic schoolteacher.  His love interest, Sophia, is played by Sarah Bell of Lewisburg, a graduate of Indiana University’s theatre program.  Leon and Sophia are guided by her parents, Nikolai and Lenya, played by the real-life couple of Ken Kopf and Hope W. Kopf of Northumberland who have appeared together in Over the River and Through the Woods, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and many other area shows.  The villainous Count Gregor, who competes with Leon for Sophia’s affection, is played by actor Glenn Wilson whose resume includes roles such as Carlos on All My Children, Mark Rothko in Red and Moss in Glengarry Glen Ross at Key West’s Waterfront Playhouse.  Finally, the cast is rounded out by an ensemble of hilarious characters played by Andrew Shaffer, Bradley Wakeman, Kathy Coup, Traci Ferguson and Ned Ladd who together bring years of Shakespearean, musical theatre, radio, and other performance experience to the stage.  The production is directed by Jove Graham, a Lewisburg resident and alumnus of Philadephia’s Arden Theatre Company professional development program.  Set design and construction is by Dennis Merkle, costuming by Hope Kopf and Barbara Ross, properties by Kathy Coup, with lighting by Andy Seal.

(Click here to Meet Our Cast & Crew!)

Fools was clearly a labor of love for Neil Simon,” says director Jove Graham, “that gave him a chance to mix comedic styles and create larger-than-life characters and situations that just wouldn’t fit in most of his other modern-day plays.  There are influences from  Borscht belt vaudeville humor, Abbott & Costello, Burns & Allen, Monty Python… it’s first and foremost a comedy and the rehearsals are making us laugh every night.  But it’s also a story about family, small-town living, and the teachers who inspire us and set out to make our world a better place.  It’s about love, and the true meaning of ‘intelligence.’ It’s also about the hard choices we make when our life’s goals and dreams don’t always match up with the people we want to spend our lives with.  Amidst all the laugher, it’s really a beautiful little story.”

Fools runs for one weekend only (March 8-10) at the Campus Theatre, and we hope you will be there to join in the fun!