The fragility, complexity, beauty, depths and breadth of love will be shared and explored starting Friday, as Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley brings its production of Craig Lucas’ “Prelude to a Kiss” to the stage.
WICA Artistic Director and the show’s director, Deana Duncan, said this play has been on her mind and in her heart for 20 years, but now seemed like the right time to mount the production. “When I first read it way back then it was a beautiful and funny love story, now all these years later I see, feel, hear the layers of depth beneath the romantic comedy,” Duncan described. “The play fit this season of taking chances, reaching beyond our comfort zones and trying new ways to tell story and share humanity.” While so many fairy tales end with the wedding, the “happily ever after” moment, that’s really just the beginning of any true love story. And so it is with “Prelude’s” main characters. Peter and Rita have the whirlwind, romantic courtship, celebrate their
wedding and are preparing for their “happily ever after.” But a strange, magical twist of fate - in the form of a congratulatory kiss from an old man - turns everything upside down, inside out and backwards, forcing the couple to examine what true love really means. It prompts the question, what is it we love about someone, the package or the contents? “Deana sent me the script one afternoon and I read it after I got home from work that night,” said Ty Molbak, who plays Peter Hoskins. “When I finished, I remember staying seated in my living room chair for a while, as fragments of past relationships started to surface. First meetings, discovering shared humor, being completely embarrassed from my naiveté on certain topics, [with] a bittersweet mix of regret and joy accompanying it all.” “This play is so lovely, exploring the meaning of true love, and the preciousness of life,” said Gail Liston, who plays Aunt Dorothy as well as Leah. “Deana has come up with a wonderful concept which lets the young lovers be the realistic core of the story and surrounds them with characters that come from a heightened reality. This enhances the magic, as well as the beautiful sets, lights and costumes.” There are many who may remember the 1992 film version of “Prelude to a Kiss.” While the script for the movie is nearly identical to that of the stage play, and while the movie version of the story had a big budget, Duncan said she believes the play is better, because theater allows its characters to come alive right in front of an audience. “Theatre forces artists to edit to only what matters,” she said. “Craig Lucas wrote this exhilarating and challenging piece for theatre; it’s meant to be on stage, shared with a live audience who become part of the story. In the movie, when Peter shares his inner thoughts, it’s just words. In our play, when he does that, he will turn and speak to you, the audience, and your reactions will help propel us forward.” Developing those characters demands hours of work from the actors. But cast members say it is when actors can be vulnerable with one another that true magic happens. “It is a wonderful world of discovery as we
continue, day after day, in rehearsal and on our own, to discover the relationships my character has with the others and melding that with the character choices of my cast mates,” said Brian Plebanek, who portrays the bride’s uncle, Fred. “Discovery continues, even after opening night and all through the production.” “Everyone in this cast has such kind, generous, and interesting personalities,” Molbak said. “After a conversation or two, it’s impossible not to find some sort of connection with them. After that, it’s just about relaxing and opening yourself up enough so that you can really see them and can allow them to see you.” “These actors are professional level, everyone one of them brings a combination of experience and training,” Duncan said. ”They know how to quickly create believable relationships on stage and as they work through the intimacy required, they allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to believe in the love and loss their characters are feeling. “Theatre holds safe space for a group of us to come together and create story, to crack open our pains and joys and work wildly on something we all believe in,” she continued. “We do this with great love and a hope that our work will create emotion and dialogue not only around the themes of the play but around the greater themes of being human on the planet. Being given this opportunity to
work with this group of people on this script at this time – it’s a gift.” The cast also includes actors Bob Atkinson, Jessica Baxter, Ethan Berkley, Suzi Dixon and James Hinkley, with Zachary Schneider as understudy. Hinkley also composed several versions of the hit song “Prelude to a Kiss,” that are used throughout the show.
“We do have a wonderful cast of old and new friends,” said Plebanek. “This is a joy to be a part of and we hope to share that joy with every person in the audience. We hope our discoveries lead to their own discoveries.” “Deana has given us so much room to create characters,” Liston said. “This cast and crew are simply the best. I’m so happy to be a part of this show.” “Actors are amazing creatures, and they need audiences to witness and give feedback for the entire process to work,” said Duncan. “Come to the show, if only to support the work these actors and creative team have worked so hard to create and share with you…it will be worth it!”
SOURCE: Whidbey Weekly
Prelude to a Kiss | Jun 07-22, 2019