PUNXSUTAWNEY — The theme is laughter…and plenty of it as the members of the Punxsutawney Theatre Arts Guild (PTAG) announce the line-up of the three plays selected for the Guild’s 39th anniversary season.

Since 1975, PTAG has been spotlighting local talent in live stage productions.

The tradition continues in 2014 with the launch of the annual patrons’ drive to encourage area residents to become part of the activities.

The three plays chosen to entertain audiences represent a variety of comedy styles, including a chuckle-filled look at family vacations, the unexpected twists of a modern love story and a double feature focusing
upon the lighter side of growing older.

First up will be “Leaving Iowa,” a salute to the classic family road trip. Tim Clue’s and Spike Morton’s two-act play is both “hilarious and touching,” said the Chicago Sun Times.

A cast of 10 seasoned performers is already rehearsing the show, which will be staged at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 and March 1 and again on March 7 and 8.

On a journey to return his father’s ashes to his dad’s childhood home, a middle-aged man recalls his youth and the hilarious pitfalls of the family’s vacations.

Veteran director Kathy S. Dinsmore chose “Leaving Iowa” because of its abundant humor and its unique blending of the past and present.

“What About Luv?,” the summer musical, offers up a wry and witty examination of the neurotic glory and pain of romance.

Written by Jeffrey Sweet with music by Howard Marren, the combination of fetching melodies, razor-sharp lyrics, zinging one-liners and tongue-in-check comedy will make the plot’s visits to the Brooklyn Bridge an evening of fun.

Director Jef Dinsmore will team up with Kathy S. Dinsmore (vocal director) at the helm of the show.

The musical will have its local run in late June, followed by two weeks at Sawmill Theater in Cook Forest. Patrons are reminded, however, that PTAG season tickets are good only in Puxsutawney.

The season will conclude in the fall when another Guild stalwart, Terry A. Fye, returns as director and performer in an evening billed as “double the fun.”

In two different formats, a monologue and a two-act play, the program will examine aging, first from a man’s point of view and the second from a woman’s perspective.

Fye will open the evening with his monologue, titled “Someday Brad Pitt Could Look Like Me.”

Commenting on the presentation, Terry said, “If you believe that laughter is the best medicine, this half-hour presentation could be a great prescription for whatever ails you. I’ll be commenting upon the pleasures and the pains of growing older. I will share a variety of observations, comments, anecdotes and experiences based upon my quest to answer the question, ‘Is the grass always greener on the other side of retirement?’”

Among the topics he will explore are the physical changes that aging brings about…the skirmishes retired spouses might face…senior moments (Terry says his have become a mini-series)… problems with technology….and the importance of smiling your way through the golden years.

The main feature of the night will be “Gladys in Wonderland,” a two-act play by Rosemary Frisinio Toohey.

Gladys, a feisty 87-year-old, may be coming to the end of her days of munching donuts and checking the obituaries.

Death himself comes knocking at her door to whisk her off into the great unknown. Gladys’ stubborn refusal to exit leads to a parade of whining and obnoxious relatives and so-called friends.

Somehow, eternity may not seem like such a bad idea.

The Midland Reporter Telegram (Texas) declared the play is “a laugh-out loud kind of evening with a ring of truth about it.”

With preparations now underway for the first show, PTAG is now conducting its patrons’ campaign.

Those who wish to be part of the fun of the Guild’s 39th Season by helping to underwrite the costs of high-quality, live stage performances in Punxsutawney can enroll as a patron, a sponsor or a benefactor, according to the amount of their gifts and the number of tickets they wish to receive.

Business owners can elect to buy advertising in the Guild’s programs at reasonable rates for great exposure year round.

Anyone who wishes for more information about the upcoming shows or additional details about the patrons’ drive or the advertising
opportunities should call the Fyes at 938-6928 or the Dinsmores at 938-0378.