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Hassler has humorous prescription

PLAINVIEW, Minn. -- Neil Simon, the master of Broadway comedy, makes an appointment with Anton Chekhov, the Russian physician, storyteller, and playwright, in "The Good Doctor," which will be performed June 14 to July 13 at the Jon Hassler Theater. The production opens the 2008 season.

In the late 19th century, Chekhov was a struggling medical student who wrote humorous short stories for newspapers to earn money to pay his tuition.

In the early 1970s, Simon, having already written the now classic plays "Barefoot in the Park" and "The Odd Couple," took a breather of sorts before, in his own words, "getting on to bigger things." During that spell he adapted several of the Chekhov comedies into a vaudeville style presentation under the title "The Good Doctor" - a reference to Chekhov the medical man.

"On the face of it, there's no odder couple in theatrical literature than Neil Simon and Anton Chekhov," said Carter Martin, Hassler general manager.

"Simon is an acknowledged comedic master, while Chekhov ended up taking a gloomy view of human nature in plays like 'The Seagull' and 'The Cherry Orchard.' It's wonderful, therefore, that before he went down that gloomy road, Chekhov produced this series of really delightful -- and in some cases screamingly funny -- vignettes, which are filled with characters that are every bit as quirky and human as any that you'll find in Neil Simon's more popular plays"

"The Good Doctor" opens with a sneak preview at 8 p.m. June 13, and will run Thursday through Sunday. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. In addition, matinees are scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Thursdays, June 26 and July 10.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors 62 and older, and $14 for students 22 and under. For the sneak preview and Thursday evening performances, seats will be $14. Discount tickets for members of the medical profession will be offered during a special "Doctor's Night" June 21.

Art show

In conjunction with "The Good Doctor," the Hassler will feature art works by Claire Thoen in the lobby art gallery. Thoen's Nordic images are inspired by medieval and immigrant folk art dating from 1180 to 1920. She translates figurative work of "old country" artists into new pieces.

A reception for Thoen will be at 6:30 p.m. June 14. For information , call (507) 534-2900.