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‘All the Great Books…’ expected to tickle the funny bone

The name might sound dry, but Jason Roland said those who attend Lee Street Theatre’s production of “All the Great Books (Abridged)” are sure to laugh.
“I think they are going to be pleasantly surprised,” he said. “It’s far funnier than the title suggests.”
The show stars Roland, along with Brian Romans and Jacob Asher.
The men make up the trio that starred in last year’s hit “The Complete History of America (Abridged)” from the same creators.
“There’s still that nice rapport,” Managing Artistic Director Justin Dionne said.
Asher said doing the show prepared them for the upcoming “All the Great Books” production.
“The three of us had never done anything together before last year,” he said. “We’re a more cohesive force now.”
Roland said the group “fell right back into it” when they began rehearsing for the show about four weeks ago.
“Last year everyone said the show was so good because it was like we knew each other; now we actually do know and like each other, so it’s going to be even better,” he said.
Romans said it’s been fun reconnecting with his cast mates.
“This is a blast,” he said. “It’s the most fun I have all year.”
But that doesn’t mean it’s been any easier for the men to memorize the show’s multitude of lines, which cover 86 books in a mere 90 minutes.
“I think the language is tougher to memorize in this one simply because it’s a play about literature,” Romans said.
The thing that separates this production from the last one is the space where it will be performed.
Instead of using the Looking Glass Artists Center’s black box theater, Lee Street will begin performing shows at its new performing arts center.
“Last year the stage wasn’t much bigger than the rehearsal space,” Romans said. “This time around we moved into a warehouse that became a theater within a week.”
But the audience can expect to see the same personal touches added to this year’s production as last.
“Part of the essence of these shows is that there is an element of us in these characters and the scripts are written with current jokes in mind,” Romans said. “We have updated the jokes that are dated.”
The trio will take the show on the road Friday, performing at Carson High School.
Dionne said the educational aspect is one of the things that’s drawn him to the shows, which are written by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor.
“It’s funny, but you still learn,” he said. “The books in the play are ones that you’re supposed to read, but many of them I still have not read, so don’t feel intimidated.”
Romans said he hopes the show reignites a love of reading.
“The very best outcome, I think for me, is if we mention somebody’s favorite book and they go home and crack the binding again for the first time in years,” he said.
“You don’t have to have read all the books to get the jokes and appreciate the play.”
Dionne warned the show is rated PG-13.
“There is some adult humor, but it’s nothing any worse than you’re going to see on cable television,” he said.

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