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Hernando Entertainment Series lineup gets overhaul

The schedule of professional stage shows being brought to Hernando High School's Performing Arts Center by Stars of the Universe has had a complete make-over.

Three of the originally announced shows _ the musicals Babes in Arms and The Merry Wives of Windsor and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra _ have been dropped, and the dates for all four shows in Brooksville have been changed.

The two musicals will be replaced by one musical and a troupe of Chinese acrobats, and the originally scheduled Dorsey orchestra will be replaced by a tribute to composer Henry Mancini, O, Henry!.

"Scheduling touring entertainment is no easy task," said a news release announcing the changes. The musical Babes in Arms, set for Dec. 7, has decided not to tour, said Brian Ososky, publicist for Stars of the Universe in Lakeland.

The replacement is Cole Porter's Can-Can, which will play at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15.

The Stars of the Shanghai Acrobatic Theatre replaces the costume musical Merry Wives, with a play date of 2:30 p.m. Jan. 4.

Only the three-person off-Broadway comedy Greater Tuna remains from the Hernando Entertainment Series' original lineup, and its play date has been changed to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 2. That show will star South Florida comics Larry Harmon, Phil Kaler and Bob Harmon, not the original playwrights and stars Jaston Williams and Joe Sears, as previously indicated by Stars owner Dick Wilson.

Despite the major changes to the show lineup, Stars' publicist Ososky says the presenters have decided not to give refunds to people who have already bought season tickets.

"Lots of major theaters and presenters have this policy," Ososky said. "We're not going to do refunds for changes in dates, times or shows."

Refunds will be made only in the event of the death or debilitating illness of the ticket holder and the ticket holder's seat partner, if requested, or if the ticket holder moves out of the area, Ososky said.

The lineup has been changed in the Pasco County series at River Ridge Middle/High School, too, Ososky said, though the changes are less drastic.

The musical Babes in Arms is also being replaced by Can-Can in that series, with the same time and date of 2 p.m. Dec. 8.

The date and time for musical Annie Get Your Gun is being changed from a Sunday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 2.

"The reason it's an evening is that the load-in takes so long," said Ososky of the setup time for the musical's sets. As for the unusual weeknight presentation, Ososky said, "We took the closest date that we could get from the original date."

The Suncoast Series in New Port Richey will keep the comedy Greater Tuna at 2 p.m. Feb. 23 and the musical Zorba at 2 p.m. March 2.

This was the third major change in the Suncoast lineup since the season was announced in early March. Annie Get Your Gun replaced the musical version of I Remember Mama, and Zorba replaced the musical revue The Best of Burlesque, two shows in the original lineup.

The presenters declined to give exact figures for season ticket sales for either venue, saying only that "we estimate that we're about 10 percent ahead of where we were this time last year."

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