A new play is coming to the Lopez Community Center this March and audiences will “laugh until they cry and cry until they laugh,” said Carol Steckler, producer and mind behind the production of Joe Di Pietro’s “Over The River and Through the Woods”.
Carol read the play in September of 2008, after her children saw the play on Broadway, and reported that it was hilarious and the themes were very universal. A smart, poignant comedy about separating families, Carol was struck by the authenticity of the story.
“I had been looking for something, a play that was different than what we’ve done here, and this one called out to me.”
‘Over The River and Through the Woods’ features six characters within generations; grandparents, and grandchildren, who experience the pull of their lives, literally, over hundreds of miles. Steckler commented, “The most common theme inside of it is moving for different reasons, but the main theme is about the separation of family, of loved ones.”
Opening night for the play is March 12. “On March 11,” said Steckler, “There is a dress rehearsal that is open to the public and it is not ticketed, so everyone can afford to come and watch.”
KLOI and the Community Center are co-sponsoring the production and helping with the cost of the space. KLOI is helping to pay for costumes, scripts, “and,” said Steckler, “We are graciously accepting underwriting donations from any entity, and they are tax-deductible.”
“The show was pre-cast,” said Steckler. “There are only six actors and actresses and there are several items of note about this particular show that veers from what we’ve one before onstage; it’s a comedy. We haven’t done a comedy in a while. It’s just one detailed set of the inside of a home, and it’s a small cast. We haven’t done a small cast like this for 10 or 12 years. We’ve done much larger shows with minimalist sets, but this is different. We are looking for some furniture, small couches or loveseats, dining room chairs, six that match preferably, as well as a dining room sideboard, if anyone has some extra furniture.”
The actors are, in order of appearance: Joel Bruce, who plays Nick Cristano, the 34 year old grandson. Larry Cochran plays Frank Gianelli, one of the grandfathers, Janet Baltzer plays Aida Gianelli, grandmother; Robert Hermann plays Nunzio Cristano, the paternal grandfather; Terri Drahn plays Emma Cristano, another grandmother, and Kelly Meyer plays Caitlin O’Hare, the young ingenue thrown into the mix by the grandparents. Unbeknownst to Nick, they’ve invited her to dinner. The plot begins unfolding from the dinner table as the meal progresses.
Hermann, playing the part of Nunzio, said, “It’s definitely a comedy with a big heart. The dialogue is very fast and very funny; comedy is a lot harder than drama to pull off, and timing is everything. For me, this is the first non-musical I’ve done in 25 years.” Hermann, who started out as a professional singer and made his professional debut as a lead in the National Touring Company’s production of Hair, has been involved in theater from childhood up to the present. This is his 60th show on the stage.
Said Steckler, “It’s good time to have a good laugh about the human condition.”