MARATHON, Florida Keys — Singers, dancers and musicians are gearing up for a busy 2012 season of adventure, drama, skits and music at the Marathon Community Theater, located at 5101 Overseas Highway.

The 2012 slate of shows opens with “Dixie Swim Club,” running Jan. 5-28 and written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten. The comedy follows the lives and friendships of five southern women who, since college swim team days, gather each year for a long weekend sans husbands or kids.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad, the theater is to present Paul Jellinek as Henry Flagler in a one-man performance set for Jan. 22. Jellinek tells the life story of the visionary Flagler and the business of building the railroad, and musical entertainment is planned prior to his performance. Show times are 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., with tickets priced at $20 per person.

“Once Upon A Mattress,” a fun-filled and family-friendly musical based on the story of the princess and the pea, runs March 1-31. The show was written by Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer.

The season’s musical finale, “Forever Plaid” by Stuart Ross, is scheduled May 3-12. “The Plaids” sing hits including “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Chain Gang” and “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing.”

Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily and Saturdays on show dates.

Back by popular demand is the theater’s monthlong January Group Art Show in the main gallery, featuring eight Florida Keys artists displaying more than 70 original works in oil, acrylic, collage, mixed media and watercolor. Themed “Tropical Impressions” for 2012, the show runs Jan. 5-28, and a meet-the-artists reception is set for 5-7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8.

“Tropical Impressions” artwork can be viewed and purchased on select show dates of “Dixie Swim Club,” whose performances are scheduled Thursdays through Saturdays as well as a Sunday matinee Jan. 15. The art gallery is open, free of charge, before the curtain and during intermission for play ticket holders. Other open-gallery dates include Jan 5, 8, 15, 19-22 and 26-29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with an artist to welcome guests.

Season tickets for 2012 productions are available in a three- or four-show package for $54 or $70, respectively.  Single show prices for “Dixie Swim Club” and “Forever Plaid” are $18, and “Once Upon a Mattress” is $24. Theatergoers who purchase two tickets in a single transaction to a play on any “Thrifty Thursday” other than opening night can save $10 off the price of the two tickets.

Advance purchase of tickets is highly recommended for preferred seating choices. Group rates are available.

Marathon Community Theatre is a not-for-profit organization with more than 200 members, and is dedicated to contributing to and enhancing the cultural life of the Middle Keys.

Theater information: www.marathontheater.org or 305-743-0408

Marathon visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/marathon or 1-800-262-7284

Social: facebook.com/floridakeysandkeywesttwitter.com/thefloridakeysYouTube.com/FloridaKeysTV

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