LOWELL -- The audience gets a front row seat to real theatrical comedy, drama and backstage hijinks in Merrimack Repertory Theatre's latest production, the world premiere of John Kolvenbach's Half 'n Half 'n Half.

It opens Thursday in previews, to the press on Sunday and runs through Dec. 23.

It's a monster of a show, but in a great way, says director Kyle Fabel of this farcical, behind-the-scenes look at life in a repertory theater.

The show involves the personal conflicts of a long-suffering acting couple, their adult daughter and a young newcomer and how it affects their performances.

"It's actually a look into our lives in the theater -- and I am having so much fun," said Jim Ortlieb, playing George, the husband.

"It's a delight to share our lives with audiences. We truly are a tribe," agreed Carol Halstead, playing Loretta, his wife.

Tickets to the Thursday, Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m. performance are $5, cash only at the box office between 4:30-7:30 p.m. Limit 2 per person. Tickets to all other performances begin at $20. Visit www.MRT.org or call 978-654-4678 for tickets.

On the marquee

  • -- The Drama Guild at the Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro brings a fresh take to the Neil Simon comedy classic The Odd Couple with an all-female version. Performances are Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. 978-649-7611 for tix.
  • -- Merrimack College's Jazz Ensemble kicks off the Christmas season with a free concert Sunday, Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. in Rogers Center for the Arts, 315 Turnpike St., North Andover. Donations to Lazarus House are welcome.
  • -- The Spotlight Players take audience members back to the 1940s when everyone tuned in their radios for entertainment with their performance of A Christmas Carol. A cast of 15 brings the voices and sounds to life with performances on Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 7 and 8, at 8 p.m. and Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. at Riverside Memorial Church, 278 Groveland St., Haverhill. 978-380-8509 for tickets.
  • -- The dark Christmas comedy The Eight: Reindeer Monologues runs Friday-Saturday, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, at The Acting Loft, 670 North Commercial St., Manchester, N.H. The cast includes Marc Pelletier and Kurt Bergeron of Lowell, Dylan Gamblin of Dracut, and Victoria Hogan of Hudson, N.H. Recommended for mature audiences only. $15 at the door or by emailing aaronfoss@ymail.com.

Nancye Tuttle's email is nancyedt@verizon.net.