WHITEHALL — Two historic West Michigan institutions — a Whitehall theater and a Muskegon baseball park — are taking a swing at celebrating their 100th birthdays together.
Both having opened in 1916, Howmet Playhouse here and Marsh Field in Muskegon are teaming up for the playhouse’s 2016 Summer Theatre Festival.
The playhouse’s opening show is “Rounding Third,” playwright Richard Dresser’s two-character comedy about a Little League baseball coaches who clash during the course of a season.
The production at the 396-seat playhouse will run for three performances, 7:30 p.m. July 7-9.
According to Beth Beaman, managing director of the playhouse, the common centennials, and the theater’s season opening with a play set in a baseball environment, made for a natural partnership.
“The fact that … Marsh Filed … is also turning 100 years old this year, and we are doing a play about two Little League coaches, was a great opportunity to cross-promote both of our organizations,” Beaman said.
The playhouse already has made its mark at Marsh Field, home of the Muskegon Clippers summer baseball team of the Michigan Collegiate Baseball League.
On June 18, “Rounding Third” director Kent Brown and actors Joe Carmolli and Chris Beaman attended a Clippers’ home game.
In the middle of the seventh inning, the actors sang the traditional seventh-inning stretch song “Take Me Out the to Ballgame.”
The Clippers might reciprocate the visitation.
“We are hoping to have some of the teammates join us for a ‘Rounding Third’ performance,” said Beth Beaman.
“Rounding Third” teams two playhouse regulars — actors Carmolli (nine summer seasons) and Chris Beaman (30 years) — with a playhouse newcomer, albeit one with a wealth of experience.
Director Kent Brown is a resident of South Carolina. He is a professor emeritus of drama at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He has taught playwriting, acting and directing seminars across the country. His own award-winning plays have been produced extensively throughout the U.S., Australia, Canada, and The Netherlands.
In “Rounding Third,” Don (played by Carmolli) is a blue-collar veteran baseball coach whose son is the team’s star pitcher, and who wants to win no matter what.
Signing on as Don’s assistant coach is Michael (Beaman), a younger man who is new to the town and the game, and whose son is on the team but has never before played baseball. Don and Michael conflict over what lessons the game should be teaching.
The show business publication Variety has called the play “hilarious,” and “Rounding Third” has been praised elsewhere for reflecting, “ … the passions, the joy and the pain that fills the heart of any person who has ever loved a child who was competing for anything, from sports to spelling bees to talent shows.”
Tickets for “Rounding Third are $21 for adults and $17 for students.
For reservations, visit the playhouse’s web site, http://www.howmetplayhouse.org; or the box office.
Beginning on July 5, the box office of the playhouse, 304 S. Mears, will be open weekdays from 1-5 p.m., and one hour before show times.
The playhouse is also selling season flex passes: a Full Flex Pass is $200 for 12 tickets, and a Mini Flex Pass is $100 for six tickets.