BWW Interviews: Old Opera House to Present Neil Simon's THE DINNER PARTY

BWW Interviews: Old Opera House to Present Neil Simon's THE DINNER PARTY

Don't have any dinner plans this weekend? Come to the Old Opera House in Charles Town, WV, for an evening of theater featuring an unusual play by a well-known American playwright.

The Dinner Party, written by Neil Simon and directed by Glenn Frail, opens this weekend at the Old Opera House. Though the theater company has previously produced Neil Simon productions, this show is a bit unique.

"This isn't the typical Odd Couple or Rumors comedy or farce. There are very clever and funny lines and exchanges of dialogue, but it takes a serious turn that I don't think people expect from Neil Simon" said cast member Christine Brewer, who plays Gabrielle Buonocelli

"It starts as a farce and then as you watch, it turns into a drama, but still has some of the Neil Simon comedy throughout makes it unique" said cast member Shannon Spears, who plays Yvonne Fouchet.

"Neil Simon has been one of America's post popular comedy writers since the early 1960's. His comedy has become personal and more adult in his more recent offerings such as The Dinner Party. This play takes you on a wonderful roller-coaster ride with plenty of laughs and some biting dramatic moments laced together. You could label this a funny drama, a dramatic comedy or maybe a dramedy" said cast member Steven Brewer, who plays Andre Bouville.

The Dinner Party is an intimate show, featuring an ensemble cast of six characters who are invited to dine at a first-rate restaurant in Paris on the same evening. The guests, who have no idea of what to expect in advance, are all thrown together in a private dining room to enjoy their meal. As the evening unfolds, they begin to discover much more about each other and themselves than they ever imagined.

"In the beginning, you love learning about the characters and diving into their personal tales as their lives are revealed before your eyes. How you feel about them in the end, well, that just remains to be seen!" said Spears

"We have had a wonderful time working together, actors and director, trying to find all the elements that make these six characters both real and funny at the same time. Some of the best comedic moments occur when you can directly relate to the characters and what they are feeling or experiencing in the work" said Steven Brewer

In addition to the smaller cast and challenges of comedic timing, the show also features a unique and realistic relationship between some of the characters. Actors Christine Brewer and Steven Brewer, who portray ex husband and wife in The Dinner Party, are actually married in real life.

"The most challenging thing [about rehearsals] has been playing opposite my husband. We've only been on stage [opposite each other] once before, and it was in a smaller show. The Dinner Party has us pitted against each other as ex-spouses, and it has been interesting to say the least" added Christine Brewer.

The cast is eager to present this unique Simon play that is quite a departure from the normal shows area audiences have come to expect.

"Since the play weaves both dramatic moments and broad comedy together, our challenge has been to let both elements shine; not to let the drama over shadow the comedy or visa-versa. This is probably not one of the plays our patrons would bring to mind when they think about seeing a play by Neil Simon, but it is a dramatic comedy that deserves an audience. It is intelligent, funny and moving." said Steven Brewer.

"The show does have some very funny moments in it, but it will hit you emotionally too. It covers all the bases" said Christine Brewer

"Even with a serious subject, Neil Simon found a way to make you laugh" added Spears.

The Dinner Party cast also features Rick Harner as Albert Donay, Robert Allen as Claude Pichon, and Jennifer George as Mariette Levieux.

The Dinner Party will run April 25, 26, 27 and May 2, 3 and 4 at the Old Opera House, located at 204 N. George Street, Charles Town, WV. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday matinee performances are at 2:30 p.m.. Tickets are reserved. Please call 304-725-4420 or visit to make reservations.

Photo Credit: Old Opera House

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Johnna Leary Johnna Leary is a vocal performance musical theatre major at Shepherd University. She is the Arts and Styles Section Editor of the Shepherd University newspaper, The Picket. She previously wrote for The Brooke Scene as a student news correspondent and interned at the Contemporary American Theater Festival. Johnna frequently performs in educational and local theater productions. Her favorite roles include Johanna (u/s) and Young Lucy in Sweeney Todd at Shepherd, Isabel in Scrooge! The Musical and Mallory/Avril in City of Angels at the Old Opera House, Amy March in Little Women at the Apollo Civic Theater and Olive Ostrovsky in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Lily St. Regis in Annie at the Washington County Playhouse. Johnna is also active in many performing organizations, serving as secretary for Scene Stealers, the student-run musical theatre performance group and a member of the Vocal Jazz Octet, Women's Camerata, Masterworks Chorale and Sigma Alpha Iota at Shepherd University.

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