The Craterian season opens

Sure, the touring production of "Chicago" coming to Medford's Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater Wednesday, Sept. 3, sold out faster than hotcakes in January, and what could you do? Don't dismay. The Craterian has put together a strong month to open its season.

Comic Martin Short will perform Sept. 17 ($66 to $78). The redoubtable musical "Oliver" is coming to town Sept. 22 $42 to $60). Cantabile, aka the London Quartet, will bring its mix of singing and British wit on Sept. 27 ($19 to $25; youth tickets $13 to $19)). And the 25th anniversary tour of "Nunsense," starring Sally Struthers, will take the stage Sept. 30 ($47 to $5; youth $34 to $40).

After the better part of a decade in Canadian theater and television, Short broke into American television in 1979 starring in "The Associates." The turning point in his career came in 1982 when he joined the cast of "SCTV," the comedy show created by members of Toronto's branch of the famed Second City improvisational troupe. Short caught the eye of Saturday Night Live's Lorne Michaels, who hired him for the 1984-85 season.

Short has returned to television to write, produce and star in three comedy specials. He also co-starred as the Mad Hatter in NBC's "Alice in Wonderland" and earned an Emmy nomination for his work on the NBC mini-series "Merlin." He earned a second Emmy nod for his performance in Comedy Central's "Prime Time Glick" (2001-2004).

On Broadway, he earned a Tony nomination for his work in the ill-fated "The Goodbye Girl" (1993), and won the award in 1999 for "Little Me." In 2006 he starred in the musical comedy "Fame Becomes Me," which caused the New York Times' Ben Brantley to call him "the friendliest of the 'Saturday Night Live' alumni who made it big."

He was reportedly Mel Brook's first choice to play Leo Bloom in the Broadway musical, "The Producers," the role that went to Matthew Broderick. Short did play Bloom to Jason Alexander's Max Bialystock in the Los Angeles production of the show.

"Oliver!" is based on "Oliver Twist," the classic by that most theatrical of writers, Charles Dickens. Perhaps the first novel in English with a child protagonist, it may have been inspired by Robert Blincoe, an orphan whose first-hand account of his ordeals as a child laborer was widely read in the 1830s.

"Oliver!" mixes sentiment, satire, and social commentary as it portrays the effects of industrialization on London's working class.

Cantabile mixes classical discipline and comic panache in a dazzling array, from Renaissance madrigals to Monty Python ditties.

"Nunsense," starring Sally Struthers, premiered in 1986 and ran for more than 10 years, becoming the second-longest-running off-Broadway musical of all time behind "The Fantasticks." At last count it had been translated into 26 languages and been given over 8,000 different productions.

"Nunsense" characters have been played by Edie Adams, Honor Blackman, Pat Carroll, Peggy Cass, Phyllis Diller, Joanne Worley and many others. It has spawned five sequels and "Nunsense A-Men," a version in which the sisters are played by men in drag.

Sally Struthers, who stars in this production, is best known for playing Gloria on "All in the Family." She starred in the Fox television series "9 to 5" and has had recurring roles on "Still Standing" and "The Gilmore Girls."

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