The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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March 15, 2013

Screwball comedy coming to Stone's Throw

JOPLIN, Mo. — Stone's Throw Dinner Theatre will host the American premier of the madcap comedy "Twice is Better," written and directed by Robert Denning.

The play details the endeavors of Beverly and David Crane through their trial separation. Beverly, a film actress, is romanced during this separation by an ambitious Hollywood newcomer as David, a producer, is approached by an opportunistic actress.

"I've always been a writer, so writing just comes as second nature to me," director Robert Denning said. "I did a lot of comedy writing in California, sketches and skits for television ... but never a play."

Denning said he has a love for screwball comedies from the '50s and '60s, especially Rock Hudson and Dorris Day movies. He was also heavily inspired by the works of Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Carl Reiner.

"I just kept saying, ÔWhat happened to that type of comedy?' Now it's more sitcom-type comedy, and it has sort of a common denominator, which is not exactly the highest level of comedy," Denning said.

Denning toyed with "Twice is Better" for two years before finally publishing it. The play was performed once in Canada, though Denning did not direct the production and said the result was a little disappointing.

"I don't want to slam those Canadians, but American humor doesn't translate too well," Denning said. "But here, these actors that we've put together have really picked up on the brand of humor, and they're doing a wonderful job."

Denning was smitten with Carthage after visiting the town five years ago. In his four years living in Carthage, he has established himself as a member on the Council of the Arts, a board member of the Missouri Devotees of Music and a supporter of Opera in the Ozarks.

"I just think it's amazing how much people love the arts and support the arts here," Denning said. "I think it's the idea of Ôwhy not have it local,' as opposed to having to go seek it out, wherever they might have to go. They can enjoy it all here."

Want to go?

Stone's Throw Dinner Theatre, located 2466 W. Old Route 66 Blvd. in Carthage, will present "Twice is Better" March 14-16 and March 22-24. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 6 p.m. and Sunday performances begin at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $22 for adults and $19 for seniors, students and youths ages 13-18. Ticket costs cover dinner and the show. Details: 417-358-9665.

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