Theatre of the Big Bend offers baseball, be-bop under the stars

ALPINE – Theatre of the Big Bend spreads baseball fever with the opening of the 53rd season this Friday, June 22. “Bleacher Bums,” a nine-inning comedy written by actor Joe Mantegna, will perform two weekends, Friday-Sunday, June 22-July 1 in the Kokernot Outdoor Theatre. Curtain is at 8:15pm each evening. Tickets are on sale at: Directed by Bret Scott, Sul Ross State University assistant professor of Communication, “Bleacher Bums” chronicles long-time Chicago Cubs fans, attending an afternoon game in the Wrigley Field bleachers. “Bleacher Bums” is a 1977 play written collaboratively by members of Chicago’s Organic Theater Company, from an idea by Mantegna. Stuart Gordon directed the original Chicago production. A 1979 performance was taped for PBS television, and in 2002, a made-for-TV movie adaptation was produced. “’Bleacher Bums’ is a play about hope,” said Scott. “Every baseball fan, and especially every Cubs fan, has to be an optimist. I like to think that when the love of baseball is handed down through generations, what’s really being taught is how to hope. How to cheer for your team even when they’re terrible. “There’s a lot of value in being able to laugh in the face of long odds and long seasons, and Bleacher Bums celebrates the everyday optimists.” Dona Roman, Sul Ross professor of Theatre, directs the summer musical, “Smokey Joe’s Café,” which features 40 songs by the prolific song-writing team, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, including “Hound Dog,” “Kansas City,” “Ruby Baby,” “Poison Ivy” and “Yakety Yak.” “Smokey Joe’s Café” opens July 6. “Both shows are a step back in time, and fun productions,” said Roman. “I think they will appeal to Boomers and enchant younger audiences, as well as serve as a wonderful tourist attraction.”