Red carpet and more heralds work premiere of play

BRISTOL _ Searchlights will be blazing at Elkhart Civic Theatre’s World Premiere performance of the new Elaine Liner play, Finishing School. The show will continue for two weekends at the Bristol Opera House.

Talk about firsts! Elkhart Civic Theatre is producing the AACT NewPlayFest winning play, Finishing School by Elaine Liner. The world premiere will open Sept. 8 and run through Sept. 17. Opening night will feature a red carpet welcome, plus searchlights and a post-show slice of cake and a special toast to the play and its author, who will be in attendance opening weekend.

In Finishing School, the oldest resident of an upscale assisted living facility befriends one of the youngest, and they meet for a daily ritual: reading obits (“the senior citizen’s sports page”). Wizzer gives Al helpful advice about life among elders: “Never get between old people and a grocery store sheet cake. You will pull back a nub.” Their days get interesting when two flirty women shake up the dynamic between Al and Wizzer.

The Elkhart Civic Theatre production is directed by Kevin Egelsky, assisted by Bob Franklin, and the cast includes Dave Dufour as Al, Gail Janssen as Wizzer, Melissa Auvil as Minnie and Sandra Woodiwiss as Shirley. Set design is by John Shoup, with sound design by Garry Cobbum.

AACT NewPlayFest is an initiative by AACT to address the critical need for new, high-quality plays for community theatre audiences around the globe. This AACT playwriting competition is unique with the guarantee that an established theatre will produce each winning play as a world premiere. Another facet that sets AACT NewPlayFest apart from other competitions is that Dramatic Publishing Company will publish an anthology of the winning plays. They will also include the plays in their catalog and license the performance rights. Dramatic Publishing is one of the major licensers of plays and musicals in the United States and beyond.

After more than 30 years as a journalist and theater critic at newspapers in Texas and Ohio, Elaine Liner made her debut as a playwright and solo performer in 2013. Her one-woman “knitcom,” Sweater Curse: A Yarn about Love, premiered to five-star reviews at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and Liner has returned three more times to the Fringe to perform and to lead her “Mastering the Media Matrix” workshops for festival participants. Her book, 107 Publicity Boosters That Work, is a how-to-do-media guide for artists, writers, actors and others. Liner’s other plays are A Ripping Christmas Carol, Copeville, The Crickets’ Lunch (an homage to critics), and Cappy & Monty: A Love Story. She wrote her AACT winning play Finishing School to give older actors good roles in a funny play with a happy ending.

The AACT NewPlayFest world premiere production of Finishing School by Elaine Liner at Elkhart Civic Theatre is made possible in part by a grant from the Jack K. Ayre and Frank Ayre Lee Theatre Foundation, which was created by the children of Frank Ayre Lee as a tribute to their father and a legacy for the creative endeavors of his cousin Jack. Lee participated in theatre productions at Drew University in New Jersey and at a community theatre in Connecticut in his younger years and continued that interest when he moved to California. He was also an avid aficionado of theatre and had dabbled in playwriting. The family is pleased to honor both men through a lasting legacy promoting new works for theatre through AACT NewPlayFest.

Additional underwriting is provided by Alick’s Home Medical Equipment, along with Season Sponsor Laura and Jack B. Smith and Gaska Tape, and Elkhart Civic Theatre Media Sponsor WNIT Public Television.

AACT provides networking, resources, and support for America’s theatres. AACT represents the interests of more than 7,000 theatres across the United States and its territories, as well as theatre companies with the U.S. Armed Services overseas.

All performances are at the Bristol Opera House, in Bristol, Indiana. Tickets for Finishing School are available by phone at 574-848-4116 weekday afternoons or online at



WHO: Elkhart Civic Theatre at the Bristol Opera House

WHAT: Finishing School By Elaine Liner

WHERE: The Bristol Opera House, 210 E. Vistula Street, Bristol

WHEN: Sept. 8, 9, 15, 16 at 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 10, 17 at 3 p.m.

HOW:  Call 574-848-4116 Monday through Friday from 1 - 5:30 P.M. for reservations or tickets; or visit


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