OCTA Opens Comedy-Drama, VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE
Olathe Civic Theatre Association is gearing up for the theater's fifth and final mainstage show of the season. Christopher Durang depicts middle-aged siblings, Vanya and Sonia, who share a home in Bucks County, PA, where they bicker and complain about the circumstances of their lives. Suddenly, their movie-star sister, Masha, swoops in with her new boy toy, Spike. Old resentments flare up, eventually leading to threats to sell the house. Adding to the ensemble are sassy maid Cassandra, who can predict the future, and Nina, a lovely young aspiring actress.
The story is directed by returning OCTA veteran, Nino Casisi, who pinpoints some exciting features about one of his all-time favorite plays: "With biting dialogue, comical situations and characters that are so well written, to bring them to the stage with these actors will be a rewarding dream-come-true with hilarious results. I've worked with two of these actors before, two of them I have always wanted to work with, and the last two are brand new to me." He qualifies the play as a "farcidramedy" that brings the best of both worlds: "It's both a good old-fashioned absurdist comedy and a farce with ribbons of drama."
Another intriguing feature is the inclusion of Greek and Chekhovian influences. "The Greek aspect is within the character of Cassandra...who is more like the Greek tragedy Cassandra, known for her prophecies and spouting her foreseen predictions to warn those around her of danger. Cassandra does that in this show in a comical yet absurd way. Nobody takes her seriously...but is she right about her predictions? Hmmmmmm." Casisi goes on to say that Christopher Durang had explained in previous interviews that his play is not a Chekhov parody, rather he takes Chekhov scenes and characters and put them into a blender. Vanya and company share names with Chekhov characters, but they are not quite the same characters.
Casisi was drawn to the opening scene that establishes the odd relationship between Vanya and his sister Sonia describing it as "the little things that make you want to scratch someone's eyes out." Mixed in with the poignant realizations of Masha and Vanya's expertly written monologue is Spike's youthful, energetic stage presence to really liven things up. Casisi encourages audiences to visit OCTA to see the talents of the KC acting community come together and witness a storyline that will make them laugh, cry, even ponder their own lives. He notes OCTA's cozy theatre and how "audiences will feel like they're lying on a back lawn under the cherry orchards listening in on some very private and funny conversations being spouted from this family's back porch in Bucks County, PA. Eavesdropping at its best..."
Casisi provides an interesting take on the show, since he is also a local actor and enjoys diving into each character's mindset. He considers himself more of a "Vanya" type, because he sees the world pass by daily, tries not to get involved yet has a lot to say when provoked. "That is me on a daily basis," he jests.
The cast features: Bill Pelletier (Vanya), Ellen DeShon (Sonia), Jeannie Blau (Masha), David Webster (Spike), Meghann Deveroux (Cassandra), and Lauren McDonnell (Nina). Nino Casisi brings with him the following production team: Patrick Mitchell (Assistant Director), Jo Bledsoe-Collins (Stage Manager), TEd Collins (Assistant Stage Manager), RubyRenee Wood (Costumes), April Hall (Property Design), Chuck Cline (Lighting Design), and Dustin Kleba (Sound Design).
Tickets are available at www.olathetheatre.org
OCTA encourages season ticket holders to make seating reservations by calling 913-782-2990 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike runs April 21 - May 7, Fridays and Saturdays 8 pm nightly and Sundays at 2 pm.