Black Box Theatre offers Baggage, dance, and Gilbert & Sullivan

No Strings Theatre Company presents the charming romantic comedy Baggage at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Downtown Mall through July 9. Baggage, written by Sam Bobrick and directed by Nikka Ziemer, examines the mysteries of love and loss through the interaction of Phyllis (Debbie Jo Felix) and Bradley (Eric Hadley) when Phyllis has inadvertently taken Bradley’s bag rather than her own at the airport.

Bradley’s wife has recently left him for an old boyfriend while Phyllis suffers from unrealistic expectations in her romantic relationships. Phyllis concludes that they can help each other to deal with their problems, but their growing relationship is also affected by best friend, Mitzi (played by Heather Castillo), and a smug psychologist, Dr. Jonathan Alexander (Scott Brocato) who tries to convince the audience as well as the couple that they simply do not belong together.

Two of the actors have been seen on the Black Box stage: Heather Castillo most recently in Seagulls on a Cherry Tree and Eric Hadley in The Women of Lockerbie. Debbie Jo Felix and Scott Brocato are making their debut performances there. Gorton Smith is the assistant director, Lana Eckman is the costume designer, Peter Herman designed the lights and the set, and Ceil Herman is the producer.

The play runs through Sunday, July 9. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays performances are at 2:30 p.m. on July 2 and 9. There is a Thursday performance at 7 p.m. on July 6.

Tickets are $15 regular admission and $12 for students and seniors over 65. All tickets on Thursday are $10. Call 523-1223 for reservations.

Dancing in the Desert: A Festival of Dance in the Borderland.

Mesilla Valley Dance Collective is bringing a creative and collaborative dance festival to the Black Box Theater. The Las Cruces-based dance company is bringing pieces from their past, and future, shows along with guest companies from El Paso, Las Cruces, and Alamogordo.

The concept of the showcase originally grew from a request put forth by Ceil Herman, owner of the Black Box Theater. She and her husband solicited Mesilla Valley Dance Collective to put choreography to a Swedish song, Ett Annat Hav, by a singer they had met when they lived in Sweden.

“Björn Afzelius (1947–1999) was a very famous singer whose records sold more than any artist singing in Swedish. He sung protest songs as well as ones that were more personal. His early death from lung cancer at the age of 52 is still mourned and several cover bands still perform memorial concerts in Scandinavia,” says Herman. “Ett Annat Hav was written by Leif Strandh, another Swedish singer. It protests killing whales and was produced as a video in 1989. Björn Afzelius was involved in that project, which earned money for the World Wildlife Foundation. He also added additional lyrics and released his own recording,” she added. From that single conceived piece, the show has grown into a carefully curated exhibition of local talent.

The Mesilla Valley Dance Collective will showcase favorite pieces from previous shows as well as a special sneak peek performance from their upcoming February show choreographed by their newest member, Janessa Player. “The River is a work in progress choreographed in remembrance of a young life lost,” says Player. “The piece represents our journeys, and contrasts our expectations and reality. I don’t believe anyone is prepared for or expects to lose a young loved one. Tragedy and loss aren’t always easy to articulate. But they can, fortunately, be genuinely conveyed through the art of dance.” Mesilla Valley Dance Collective is also proud to welcome featured guest performers Jessica Trembly, of 575 Dance in Alamogordo, Human Nature Contemporary Ballet of El Paso, as well as many others.

Performances are Saturday, July 15, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 16, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 regular admission and $12 for students and seniors over 65. Reservations can be made by calling 523-1223

The Gilbert and Sullivan Company of El Paso presents The Yeomen Of The Guard

Celebrating its 48th anniversary, and for the first time in its history, the Gilbert & Sullivan Company of El Paso presents Yeomen of the Guard, or The Merryman and His Maid for its 2017 summer production. Performances are July 21 – 23 at the Black Box Theatre.

Yeomen of the Guard, or The Merryman and His Maid was called “a genuine English opera” when it premiered in London in 1888. Now, 129 years later, the Gilbert & Sullivan Company of El Paso brings it to life under the artistic direction of Stephanie J. Conwell and Marsha Watley, vocal director. Ballard Coldwell is piano accompanist.

Using gorgeous melody and rich orchestral settings, Yeomen tells a tale of bravery, deceit and disappointed love, against the background of the Tower of London, the notorious site of torture and royal treasure in the early 16th century Shakespearean times. The plot concerns Colonel Fairfax, a gentleman, soldier and scientist, who has been sentenced to be beheaded in an hour on a false charge of sorcery. To avoid leaving his estate to his accuser (a cousin), and with the help of the Lieutenant of the Tower, Fairfax secretly marries Elsie Maynard, a strolling singer. The bride agrees to be blindfolded during the ceremony and expects to be a well-paid widow in an hour. With the help of the Meryll family, Fairfax escapes, throwing the Tower into confusion and the astonished Elsie (and her mentor, the jester Jack Point, who loves her) into despair. Fairfax, disguised as Leonard Meryll, woos Elsie, and after a number of plot complications are worked out, she falls in love with Fairfax and leaves Jack Point brokenhearted.

The Gilbert & Sullivan Company of El Paso is a community theater group that incorporates newcomers and generations of loyal members who love to sing and perform these operatic works. It has an unbroken history of annual Gilbert & Sullivan productions since 1969 when it was founded by its first artistic director, Joan Quarm, to preserve and present the works of W.S. Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan. The company is funded and supported in part by the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Performances are Friday, July 21, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 22, 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, July 23, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 regular admission and $12 for students and seniors over 65. Information and reservations at 523-1223.