Daniel C. Dennis, artistic director of Tantrum Theater (Matthew Forsythe)
Daniel C. Dennis, artistic director of Tantrum Theater (Matthew Forsythe)

Tantrum Theater Announces 2016 Summer Season

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The newly minted Tantrum Theater has announced its 2016 summer season, featuring three plays with 57 separate performances in the Abbey Theater, Dublin, Ohio, between May 31 and Aug. 13.

The inaugural season opens with Little Shop of Horrors, the comedy-horror-rock musical written by Howard Ashman, with music by Alan Menken, and directed by Daniel C. Dennis.

The new original play, Tammy Faye’s Final Audition, written by Merri Biechler and directed by Dennis Lee Delaney, begins July 5. And finally, timed to coincide with the annual Dublin Irish Festival, Brian Friel’s award-winning Irish masterpiece, Dancing at Lughnasa, will be directed by Sheila Daniels.


“The stories of our inaugural season get at something we are all striving for–we are all looking for happiness and fulfillment. We’re all looking for some recognition of our worth, some acknowledgement that we’re here and that we matter. We want to know that not only do we fit into a community of some kind, but that we make our communities better,” said Artistic Director Daniel C. Dennis.

“I love the characters of these plays for their pure-hearted pursuit of that recognition,” continued Dennis. “When that validation arrives overnight for Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, the intoxicating experience leads to both love and sacrifice. In Tammy Faye’s Final Audition, Tammy Faye discovers that her televised devotion—her tireless need to literally put on a good face in order to spread the gospel—may be just the thing keeping her from happiness in the end. Lastly, the Mundy sisters of Brian Friel’s beautiful play Dancing at Lughnasa are each looking for fulfillment–for someone to accept them each as individuals worth seeing and loving. In young narrator Michael’s eyes, they are absolutely worth loving. But as he looks back and remembers them at the wild pagan ritual of Lughnasa, it is their strong, complicated natures–their differences and the tensions between how they each pursue fulfillment that we linger on. What are we willing to give up to find happiness?

“When audiences come to Dublin’s Abbey Theater for Tantrum’s first season I want them to experience the energy and pull of these stories. I want them to relate to the humanity of these characters and their problems. A fun B-movie Motown-inspired monster musical, a new play that asks us each to confront our beliefs, and a classic Irish memory play about family—I hope audiences will be transported to very different worlds, where they will find people very much like themselves.”

“We believe the benefit of live art cannot be understated. It may sound ridiculous, but we gain so much by sitting in a dark room with a few hundred strangers and experiencing something together—something that can never be repeated the exact same way,” said Rachel Cornish, interim producing director for Tantrum Theater. “Because we’re a professional company affiliated with a university, Tantrum will be uniquely poised to produce new work, and including Tammy Faye’s Final Audition affirms this commitment. And Dancing at Lughnasa is an Irish masterpiece that brings front and center our desire to connect with Dublin’s community—it will run concurrently with the Dublin Irish Festival. The playwright, Brian Friel, passed away last year, and producing this piece in homage to his contributions brings a special meaning to our first season.”

About Little Shop of Horrors

Just your typical comedy-horror-rock musical about a boy, a girl, and a carnivorous houseplant.

Poor, hapless Seymour only wants to impress the girl of his dreams. Perhaps cultivating a blood-thirsty plant will gain him the fame and fortune he needs? Just a few bodies later, and suddenly Seymour is standing in a flower shop on skid row battling a deadly threat to humanity’s very existence. Bring your green thumb and join us for this delightfully twisted cult-movie romp about love, murder, and the American Dream.

“What are the dangers of having it all: the perfect suburban house, with the white picket fence and the two-car garage?” asked Director Daniel C. Dennis. “Little Shop of Horrors presents a “Faustian story; a devil’s bargain M.aye we all have a little monster inside us, urging us on. Sometimes we don’t realize when we’ve gone too far… until it is too late.”

Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Daniel C. Dennis, May 31-June 25, is based on the book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, and music by composer Alan Menken, which in turn was based on a film by Roger Corman.

Daniel C. Dennis, Director

Daniel C. Dennis is an actor, director, music-maker and teacher. He has acted in plays, musicals and operas for Seattle Children’s Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Opera, Village Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, UMO Ensemble, and many other companies. He has directed music and created sound scores for dozens of productions including works by Shakespeare, Brecht, multimedia and interdisciplinary work, and many world premieres. Directing credits include Urinetown the Musical, bobrauschenbergamerica, Into the Woods, Oliver!, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, and others.

As a voice, dialect, and singing coach he has maintained a private practice for nearly 20 years. With the show STARBALL, an interactive, improvised music theater event for the planetarium, he has performed in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Baton Rouge and Valencia, Spain. A proud member of Actors’ Equity Association, he is currently on the performance faculty in the Division of Theater at Ohio University, where he teaches Suzuki, Viewpoints, speaking, singing and theater composition.

About Tammy Faye’s Final Audition

Tammy Faye Bakker was the sweetheart of Christian television in the 1980s until fraud and sex scandals brought her world crashing down. In this fevered dream at the end of her life, Tammy Faye enlists the men she loved to help her get back on TV and tape one last media extravaganza. Merri Biechler’s new play wipes clean the mascara and tears to make known the naked truth, and ask: to whom, and for what, do we so desperately devote ourselves?

The play was called “relentless, a force of energies alternatively touchingly sad and truly funny” by DC Metro Theater Arts, during its Washington D.C. Fringe Festival production in 2015.

Playwright Merri Beichler was drawn to Tammy Faye’s life story because, “Tammy Faye believed that God chose her at a young age to speak in tongues and preach his word. She based her life’s work on this emotional event and I found it compelling that someone could possess such a simple but profound faith. I hope that audiences find themselves looking a little deeper at a woman they thought they knew, and probably wrote off years ago as a caricature. We felt it was important to raise questions about common ground around the deep divide between the left and right our country perpetuates.”

Tammy Faye’s Final Audition, a new play by Merri Biechler, directed by Dennis Lee Delaney, and featuring Shelley Delaney as Tammy Faye, runs July 5-16.

Merri Biechler, Playwright

Merri Biechler is a playwright, actor, educator and the Managing Director of Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble, a professional theater company located in Southeast Ohio. She is the recipient of a 2014 Boomerang Fund for Artists award. Her plays include Tammy Faye’s Final Audition (Cincinnati Fringe 2015 – Best of Fringe, Washington DC Capital Fringe 2015 – Best of Fringe); Art in the Machine (Raue Center for the Performing Arts commission); An Appalachian Christmas Carol (Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble world premiere); Real Girls Can’t Win (Centenary Stage Company Women Playwrights Series winner; Stavis Award nominee; David Mark Cohen Award finalist; Victory Gardens Theater workshop; and six college productions around the country); Bombs, Babes and Bingo (Mortar Theatre Company world premiere; New Orleans Fringe Festival; Artist’s Laboratory Theatre workshop; P73 Playwriting Fellowship semifinalist; Clubbed Thumb biennial commission finalist); Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver (Princess Grace Award finalist; Jane Chambers Student Playwriting Award  winner; Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition finalist; WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory participant, and the recipient of grants totaling $40,000 to use the play as a teaching tool for medical students); The Shared Wife (Trustus Theatre annual playwriting competition finalist); Occupation (Seven Devils Playwrights Conference semifinalist; P73 Playwriting Fellowship semifinalist; Perishable Theatre’s International Women’s Playwriting Festival finalist); and Dolley Madison, and the Secret History Club (Kennedy Center/White House Historical Association commission).

Biechler received her MFA in playwriting from Ohio University. As an actor, she studied with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse and at his home on the island of Bequia, West Indies. She spent 18 months with the original Off-Broadway cast of Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding, appeared in the films He Said, She Said; The Thing Called Love and Pieces of April, and guest-starred on episodes of Judging Amy, E.R., and Murphy Brown.

Dennis Lee Delaney, Director

Dennis Lee Delaney is a veteran of the regional theater circuit, having directed more than 110 productions – both professional and in university training programs – over the past few decades. Representative regional credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival), Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet and Love’s Labour’s Lost (Orlando Shakespeare Theater); Julius Caesar (Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey); God of Carnage (Florida Repertory Theatre); The Ride Down Mt. Morgan and Side Man (Stamford Theater Works); Arms and the Man (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival); The Foreigner (Virginia Stage); The Heiress, The Cocktail Hour, The Dining Room, Stinkin’ Rich and Noises Off (Two River Theatre); Inherit the Wind, Sylvia and Over the Tavern (Capital Repertory Theater); I Hate Hamlet and Inspecting Carol (Delaware Theater); and many others.

New York credits include the original New York workshop productions of the musical Reefer Madness and the Obie-winning one-man show, Another American: Asking and Telling. Dennis Delaney is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Marietta College, earned his MFA in Directing from Rutgers University/Mason Gross School of the Arts, where he studied with William Esper and Harold Scott. For the past twelve years he has been head of the Professional Director Training Program at Ohio University where he has directed The Cider House Rules, Pt. 1, Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors, Betty’s Summer Vacation, The Hostage, Holiday, Eurydice, Girl Band in the Men’s Room, The 39 Steps, Much Ado About Nothing, and the world premiere of John Ray Sheline’s Fullest Vigour. Delaney is a longtime member of SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers Society).

About Brian Friel’s award-winning Dancing at Lughnasa

Journey to the heart of Ireland to experience the pulsating energy of a Celtic harvest festival, and remember for a moment a simple life filled with laughter and hope. In one of Ireland’s most beloved and powerful plays, five indomitable sisters dance through memories of family, tenderness, and heartbreak—as the world tumbles towards revolution.

Dancing at Lughnasa, Brian Friel’s award-winning Irish masterpiece, directed by Sheila Daniels, will run July 26-Aug. 13.

Sheila Daniels, Director

Sheila Daniels is a theatre director, educator, actor, writer and producer based in Seattle, Washington. Directing credits in Seattle include A Streetcar Named Desire, Crime and Punishment, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Lysistrata and The Children’s Hour (Intiman); The Normal Heart, Breaking the Code and The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Strawberry Theatre Workshop); Dancing at Lughnasa and workshops of The Weathermen (Seattle Rep); Jackie and Me and According to Coyote (Seattle Children’s Theatre); The Ramayana (A Contemporary Theatre); Pericles, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Nights Dream (Seattle Shakespeare Company).

Daniels has also directed work for CHAC, Baba Yaga, Ladykillers, Seattle Public Theatre, Book-It Repertory, Theater Schmeater, Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis and Throwing Bones (NYC). She is a three-time nominee and two-time recipient of Seattle’s Gregory Awards for Outstanding Direction. Sheila teaches Acting, Improv & Collaboration at Cornish College of the Arts, where she is also regular director. Also a generative artist, Sheila is currently working on a new adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, and on a performance piece examining the sexuality and politics of Helen Keller.


Created in partnership between Ohio University College of Fine Arts, the City of Dublin, and the Dublin Arts Council, Tantrum Theater will stage productions in the Abbey Theater in Dublin, Ohio until the City of Dublin completes the construction of a performing arts center planned as part of the Bridge Park development. In addition, Tantrum will provide educational workshops to high school students and community engagement in and around Dublin, as well as help grow the arts scene of Dublin, and its surrounding communities.

Tantrum Theater would serve as a professional theater providing apprenticeships and learning opportunities for Ohio University students by allowing them to work alongside accomplished professionals in the field. The theater’s name, Tantrum, references the the collective noun “tantrum of bobcats” – otherwise known as group of bobcats. The bobcat is the mascot of Ohio University.


All shows will be performed at the Abbey Theater, Dublin Rec Center, 5600 Post Road, Dublin, OH 43017. General Admission tickets will be sold beginning in March (details to follow), Regular tickets will be priced at $27.50, and Student tickets will be priced at $10 (valid I.D. required). Several preview performances for each show will be “Pay What You Will” performances.


Little Shop of Horrors

Book and Lyrics by Howard Ashman

Music by Alan Menken

Based on a film by Roger Corman

Screenplay by Charles Griffith

Directed by Daniel C. Dennis

May 31- June 25

Tuesday, May 31, 8PM Pay what you will (preview)
Wednesday, June 1, 10AM School Matinee
Wednesday, June 1, 8PM Pay what you will (preview)
Thursday, June 2, 10AM School Matinee
Thursday, June 2, 8PM Press Night
Friday, June 3, 8PM Opening
Saturday, June 4, 8PM
Sunday, June 5, 2PM
Wednesday, June 8, 8PM
Thursday, June 9, 8PM
Friday, June 10, 8PM
Saturday, June 11, 2PM
Saturday, June 11, 8PM
Sunday, June 12, 2PM
Tuesday, June 14, 8PM
Wednesday, June 15, 8PM
Thursday, June 16, 8PM
Friday, June 17, 8PM
Saturday, June 18, 2PM
Sunday, June 19, 2PM
Tuesday, June 21, 8PM
Wednesday, June 22, 8PM
Thursday, June 23, 8PM
Friday, June 24, 8PM
Saturday, June 25, 2PM
Saturday, June 25, 8PM Closing

Tammy Faye’s Final Audition

By Merri Biechler

Directed by Dennis Lee Delaney

July 5-16

Tuesday, July 5, 8PM Pay what you will preview
Wednesday, July 6, 8PM Pay what you will preview
Thursday, July 7, 8PM Press Night
Friday, July 8, 8PM Opening
Saturday, July 9, 8PM
Sunday, July 10, 2PM
Wednesday, July 13, 8PM
Thursday, July 14, 8PM
Friday, July 15, 8PM
Saturday, July 16, 2PM
Saturday, July 16, 8PM closing

Dancing at Lughnasa

By Brian Friel

Directed by Shelia Daniels

July 26-August 13

Tuesday, July 26, 8PM Pay what you will (preview)
Wednesday, July 27, 8PM Pay what you will (preview)
Thursday, July 28, 8PM Press Night
Friday, July 29, 8PM Opening
Saturday, July 30, 2PM
Saturday, July 30, 8PM
Sunday, July 31, 2 PM
Wednesday, August 3, 8PM
Thursday, August 4, 8PM
Friday, August 5, 8PM
Saturday, August 6, 2PM
Saturday, August 6, 8PM
Sunday, August 7, 2PM
Tuesday, August 9, 8PM
Wednesday, August 10, 8PM
Thursday, August 11, 8PM
Friday, August 12, 8PM
Saturday, August 13, 2PM
Saturday, August 13, 8PM closing