‘Heaven Can Wait’ has long and interesting history

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By GERMAINE HUPE/Winters Theatre Company

The cast and crew of Harry Segall’s “Heaven Can Wait,” the Winters Theatre Company’s spring production, have been hard at work rehearsing scenes, building sets, and organizing props and costumes.

The play, which opens its nine-performance run on March 9, is the story of young professional boxer Joe Pendleton. The time is the early 1940s, and life is very good for Joe. He has literally fought his way up to a championship title match, and he has been in training for several months. He is in top physical condition, or as Joe puts it, “in the pink,” with odds in his favor.

Everything changes when an over-zealous heavenly recruit causes Joe’s death 60 years before his life is scheduled to end. Mr. Jordan, the chief celestial record keeper, and his crew must find another body for the boxer because his manager has had Joe cremated. As the body search continues, the plot of “Heaven Can Wait” becomes more complicated for Joe, Mr. Jordan, and Joe’s earthly associates.

The fantasy-comedy of “Heaven Can Wait” has been around for over 80 years, but it continues to charm audiences. It was initially a hit Broadway play and later produced in two movie versions (1941 and 1978). Both films received Oscar nominations. Modern fantasy movies feature comic book inspired super heroes with bulging muscles who strive to bring about a better world. “Heaven’s” fantasy heroes are soft-spoken, angelic types who use gentle persuasion to achieve desired results. Joe reluctantly follows Mr. Jordan and his heavenly helpers and proves that human goodness can make earthly life better form those who practice it.

Show times will be 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, except for the Gala Opening on Friday, March 9, where the festivities will begin at 7:30 p.m.. Show times will be 2 p.m. on Sundays from March 11- 25.

Ticket prices for the Gala Opening on Friday, March 9, are $15 for everyone; the price includes cheesecake and champagne, as well as coffee, and other non-alcoholic beverage selections.

The Saturday, March 10, show will benefit Celebration Arts, an African-American community theatre group that has been performing for more than 40 years in Sacramento. Celebration Arts recently lost their lease, and they are raising funds for their new location in Sacramento at the former B Street Children’s Theatre. For the March 10  benefit show only, all tickets will be $20; this price includes dessert and non-alcoholic beverages.

Ticket prices for the remaining shows are $12 for General Admission, $10 for seniors, and $8 for children 12 and under.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit the Winters Theatre Company website at http://winterstheatre.org, email winterstheatre@gmail.com or call 795-4014.

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