The Pioneer Playhouse will open its 57th season Thursday in Danville with “Babe, the Sheep-Pig.”

The play, about a pig that aspires to be a border collie, is a “feel-good barnyard tale that will have you rooting for the world’s roundest, pinkest underdog,” said Holly Henson, daughter of Col. Eben Henson, who started the playhouse in 1950.

“This play is for children of ages who believe that for animals anything is possible.”

Beginning Thursday, “Babe” will be playing Tuesday through Saturday until June 23.

The Pioneer Playhouse is an optional dinner theater with dinner served at 7:30 p.m. with show time at 8:30.

Tickets for dinner and theater are $27 each for the oldest, ongoing, outdoor dinner theater in the state. Theater-only tickets are $15. Group rates are available. For reservations, call 866-KYPLAYS, toll-free, or 859-236-2747.

Four other plays are on tap at the playhouse this summer.

“The Servant of Two Masters” will open on June 26 and run through July 7. “It is the story of an arranged marriage that spins out of control, thanks to befuddled fathers, scheming servants and two lovers who risk all for love,” Henson said.

A female version of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” will run from July 10-21. “This play pits slovenly Olive Madsen against neat-freak Florence Unger in an apartment that keeps getting cleaner and meaner by the second,” Henson said.

Two Sunday show times, July 29 and Aug. 5, as well as one Monday, July 30, have been scheduled for “The Odd Couple.”

“A Jarfull of Fireflies” will run from July 24 until Aug. 5. Inspired by, but not limited to events real events, this play is about the filming of “Raintree County” at the playhouse in 1957.

The play is part of the playhouse’s Raintree County Festival which commemorate the 50th anniversary the filming, which brought Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Cliff to Danville.

During the festival, never-before-seen photos and home movies made as the movie was filmed will be on exhibit. Stories gathered from eyewitnesses of the historic filming will be retold.

The Turner Classic Movie Network will be highlighting the Pioneer Playhouse and the Raintree County Festival from late June through July 9, Henson said.

“Greater Tuna,” about the small town of Tuna, Texas, “where everyone’s got an opinion and they’re not afraid of how it sounds, will run from Aug. 7-18 and close the 2007 Pioneer Playhouse season.

Also this summer, Eastern Kentucky University’s Emerson St. John, along with some EKU students, will be filming a documentary of the playhouse’s 2007.

It will be a sequel to the documentary that Robby Henson, son of the founder, made in 2000.

Bill Robinson can be reached at brobinson@richmondregister.com or at 623-1669, Ext. 267.

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