A far more certain sign of spring than the weather in central Ohio is this: It's almost time for the annual show of Vaud-Villities Productions.
The 71st annual spring performance of the troupe, which a spokeswoman billed as the "longest-running music and dance spectacular in the nation," will open at 7:30 p.m.Thursday, April 4.
Other show times are:
* April 5, 7:30 p.m.
* April 6, 2:30 and 8 p.m.
* April 7, 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $29 for adults, $25 for senior citizens, $18 for children age 12 and younger.
All performances are at the Northland Performing Arts Center, 4411 Tamarack Blvd.
This year's show is titled "A Night at the Toni's," and that's not a misprint. The performances are a tribute to retired artistic director Toni Auch of the Northwest Side, who stepped down after two decades with the venerable troupe that originated on the stage of the former Upper Arlington High School, now Jones Middle School.
"A dedicated cast and crew of nearly 150 central Ohio performers have come together to present a professional-quality show that rivals Broadway," spokeswoman Maggie Ellison said in announcing the spring show. "The audience will find themselves tapping their feet to the beat of 42nd Street, clapping their hands to the patriotic finale and laughing to the comedic 'awards host' in between segments."
After two decades at the helm and close to four decades of involvement, Auch announced her retirement from the show and passed the baton to a new artistic team for the 2013 production.
"Leading the team is managing director Russ Coffman, who has performed with Vaud-Villities for 14 years, assisting with the technical aspects of the show each year of his involvement," Ellison said. "Rehearsing the music and conducting the orchestra is accomplished music director Johnny Steiner. The remaining members of the artistic team are comprised of technical and set directors and designers, dance coordinators and costumers."
"There's a lot of excitement," Coffman said last week. "The show's coming along real well."
It will be meaningful for the cast and crew to bid his predecessor adieu, he added.
"Toni's been around an awful long time and touched an awful lot of lives," Coffman said. "It's going to be a very special time to perform for her one last time."
Finishing touches and polishes will be made during rehearsals leading up to opening night, Coffman said. As microphones are put in place on the stage and the lighting is prepared for the actual performances, he said, members of the cast will start getting ready to put on their moves and sing their songs before a live audience, not a theater full of empty seats.
"When you're looking at mirrors and you're just watching yourself dance and perform, it's a whole different thing than when you get out there and you can barely see the audience with the bright lights in your eyes, and you're like, 'Oh, my goodness, this is for real,' " Coffman said.
Ticket information, including group sales, is available at vvproductions.com.