Tonawanda News

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May 9, 2013

Death by theater

Ghostlight Theatre presents comedy 'Final Notice'

Tonawanda News — Sometimes bad theater happens to good people.

And sometimes, it even happens on purpose.

“Final Notice,” a comedy written and directed by local playwright L. Don Swartz, will be presented at the Ghostlight Theatre starting at 7 p.m. today through May 26. In a case of art imitating life — to some extent — the plot revolves around a little theater group that just can’t seem to catch a break ... and what happens after their nastiest theater critic dies during the final dress rehearsal for a show.

Swartz said the show, which he called his first pure comedy, is making a return to the stage after its first performance back in 2002. While the story is, of course, a fabrication, he drew a lot from the real group’s experiences.

“We talk about our history here in NT,” he said. “The people in the play have just gotten a building ... I think most of it’s drawn from our experience at the Ghostlight Theatre over the years. It was my first comedy-comedy. I thought, ‘Well, they say, write what you know.’ We all know how it is to be up here when things aren’t going well.

“For the people who haven’t tried (community theater), it’s a very silly prospect when you’re on stage and nothing is going right. You see these people trying to do their best in an almost unwinnable situation.”

For the first 20 minutes, the audience sees a play within a play, in which the Swartz called upon many of the mishaps that fall upon any theater group and inflected them all upon his fictional organization in a short span of time.

“It’s a play that celebrates bad theater,” he said. “It’s a great deal of fun. We establish a really nasty critic as our piñata figure, but the audience never actually meets him. That character is kind of the catalyst for so many bad decisions.”

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