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'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks'

Camelot Theatre Company will present the fifth production in its 2009 season: "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks" by Richard Alfieri.

Lily, an aging and formidable woman in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., hires an acerbic dance instructor to give her lessons. The initial antagonism between the widow of a Southern Baptist minister and Michael, her gay dance instructor, develops into a profound compatibility.

As they swing dance, tango, foxtrot and cha-cha, they reveal the poignant and painful moments of their lives. During the sixth and final lesson, Lily confesses a closely guarded secret. As Michael shares his loyalty and compassion, we are gifted with a story that transcends fear and mortality.

The show will preview at 8 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday Aug. 12-13. The show will open at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14 and will run at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 13, at Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Ave., Talent.

The Aug. 12 performance will be a fundraiser for Court Appointed Special Advocates. There will be a pay-what-you-can performance at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19.

A Yale graduate and multi-award winning playwright, novelist, screenwriter, producer and actor, Richard Alfieri's awards include two Writers Guild Awards and an Emmy nomination. His play "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks" premiered on Broadway in 2003 starring Polly Bergen and Mark Hamill. The Los Angeles production starred Uta Hagen and David Hyde Pierce.

"Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks" has had major productions in Los Angeles, New York, London, Madrid, Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Tokyo, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Athens, Istanbul, Helsinki and many other cities around the world. It is one of the most-produced plays of the past 50 years.

Doug Warner will direct Camelot's production of "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks." Choreography is by Presila Quinby. Camelot's producing director and artistic associate, Warner has acted, designed and directed in Northern California and Oregon. Among his favorite directing assignments are "Dancing At Lughnasa," "Sockdology," "The Spitfire Grill," "Bullshot Crummond," "The Miracle Worker" (twice), "Side Man," "Light Up The Sky" and "Picasso at the Lapin Agile."

Quinby has been dancing since the age of 6 and performing as a dancer since the age of 14, finally with Maurice Bejart's Ballet of the XXth Century in Belgium. She has choreographed for various local productions including Camelot's "1776," "A Little Night Music" and "Dancing at Lughnasa." She teaches ballet to all levels at the Oak Street Dance Studio in Ashland and for the Rogue Valley School of Ballet in Medford.

"Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks" stars Shirley Patton as Lily Harrison and Justin Samuel Cowan as Michael Minetti.

At Camelot, Patton appeared as Ma in "Grapes of Wrath," Hannah in "The Spitfire Grill" and Madame Hortense in "Zorba." With a drama degree from Stanford and 30 seasons with OSF, she has appeared in "The Cherry Orchard" (Southern Oregon University), "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "A Perfect Ganesh (Actors' Theatre)," "Lettice & Lovage" and "Waiting for Godot" (Oregon Stage Works). Patton is the voice of "As It Was" on Jefferson Public Radio.

Cowan was seen most recently as Don Adriano de Armado in the SOU production of "Love's Labor's Lost." At Camelot, Cowan appeared in "Lend Me a Tenor" and "Promises, Promises." Originally from Portland, he is pursuing his bachelor of arts degree in performance from SOU. Past roles include Harold Hill in "The Music Man" and Bosola in "The Duchess of Malfi."

The production team for "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks" includes Camelot's resident designers: set designer, properties master and master carpenter Don Zastoupil; lighting designer Bart Grady and sound designer Brian O'Connor. Costume design is by Greta Descamp. Stage management is by Taja Watkins; light and sound board operator is Tatiana Watkins.

Tickets for the Aug. 12 benefit performance only are $18. Tickets for the Aug. 13 preview are $10. Tickets for regular performances are $18 for adults and $16 for students and seniors. Reserved seating is available for an additional $2.

Tickets are available online at CamelotTheatre.org, by phone or in person at the theater box office from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and one hour before performances. Call 535-5250.

Shirley Patton and Justin Samuel Cowan in Camelot Theatre's production of 'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.' - Photo by Steve Sutfin