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Television: Former TV stars in region on the stage

Upon first reading the script of ‘Middletown,” Adrian Zmed saw a positive omen.

The date on which the opening scene of the play is set is Oct. 8, 1976.

“It dawned on me that the date I began my first-ever national tour of ‘Grease,’” a show that plays a big role in Zmed’s career and launched him to stardom.

The positive feeling lasted when Zmed did the initial read at the first rehearsal of “Middletown,” a four-character piece he and his castmates bring to two local theaters, New Hope’s Bucks County Playhouse from Wednesday through next Sunday, and Wilmington’s Delaware Theatre Company from May 28 to June 2.

The bookings are part of a tour producers hope will take ‘Middletown” to off-Broadway.

The cast of the show makes you think of an ABC-TV lineup from the early ‘80s. With Zmed, who gained national fame co-starring opposite William Shatner in “T.J. Hooker,” are Cindy Williams, Shirley herself from “Laverne and Shirley;” Don Most, who played Ralph Malph in “Happy Days;” and Didi Conn, who appeared on “Benson” but is probably best known for playing Frenchy in the 1978 movie of “Grease.”

For Wilmington, Williams drops out and is replaced by Sally Struthers, who earned an iconic place in TV history as Gloria in “All in the Family.”

“Not only does Cindy leave and Sally come in,” Zmed says, “but Didi moves into Cindy’s part while Sally takes Didi’s.”

In on-stage terms, that means Zmed will be married in New Hope to Didi Conn and in Wilmington to Sally Struthers.

The way “Middletown” is presented allows such interchange to happen. In the style of the popular “Love Letters,” the performers read the script from music stands instead of acting it out physically. The byplay is the same as in any play, and the challenge is to give inflections and respond to

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