Middle-aged drama combines humor, truth

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Nina Rogers discovered Shirley Valentine on a whim.

Rogers was performing with a troupe in Steamboat Springs when she ordered a variety of scripts in hopes of finding a play that would spice up the group's performances.

After reading "Shirley Valentine," Rogers fell in love with the character and will assume the role of Valentine this weekend at the Paradigm Theater in Oak Creek. "Shirley Valentine" will be performed at the theater four times during the next two weekends.

"When I first got the script, I didn't immediately realize it was a one-woman show. But I absolutely fell in love with it. (Valentine) is incredibly humorous. She has her ups and downs, but she manages to keep her head up. Even though she's been trumped by life, she keeps going," Rogers said.

Paradigm Theater owner Barbi Bonfiglio said she is careful how she describes the play because it isn't the typical teenage, angst-ridden, coming-of-age-story. Rather, the play is about the trials and tribulations of a 42-year-old woman.

"It's not really a coming of age, but it isn't really about a mid-life crisis. It's more of a realization," she said.

Bonfiglio said she wanted the show performed on her own stage because of how popular an excerpt from the play was at the theater's opening.

"Since (Rogers) performed that excerpt, I have had nearly every woman in Oak Creek ask me when she was going to perform the whole thing. It is so funny, and (Rogers) is so great. I am tickled to have it one stage," she said.

Rogers thinks the play appeals to so many women and men because the problems Valentine encounters in her life are told with humor, and they're problems everyone can relate to.

"There is a lot of bitterness out there, but (Valentine) doesn't have any of it. She is the tangent taker of all tangent takers. She talks, she laughs, she is sensitive. Her sense of humor really appeals to me," Rogers said.

"It's just a funny show. Life can be very funny when you stop and really look at it," she said.

Rogers said she is ecstatic about performing at the Paradigm Theater because of its intimate setting, which is how an audience should experience "Shirley Valentine."

"I'm so glad to have the change to perform at Barbi's place, because it's basically like sitting in her living room. It's very intimate. This venue is absolutely perfect," she said.

"It will sell out, I'm sure," Bonfiglio said.

¤ Production of "Shirley Valentine"

¤ The Paradigm Theater, 116 Main St. in Oak Creek

¤ Show begins at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday, and Feb. 24 and 25

¤ $10

¤ For tickets: Available at Bonfiglio Drug and at the door

¤ Call 846-5137

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