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Review: ‘Spring Trio’ at The Greenspring Players

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One Act plays comprise a three-course menu of The Greenspring Players for their 2016 Spring Trio. It’s another home run for these theatrical mavens. When I pondered a connecting theme for the evening, it wasn’t difficult to extract a common element. Even though the three plays talk about events that happened many years ago, the events described and language used in these works are all today’s conundrums. Because we deal with such scenarios on a daily basis, these three plays and their casts presents an enjoyable evening of thought and stimulation.

'The Dear Departed': L to R: Jim Weedon, Pattie Ryan , Bob Fetterolf, Fred Sachs, and Sally Simko. Photo by Ellie Martin.

‘The Dear Departed’: L to R: Jim Weedon, Pattie Ryan, Bob Fetterolf, Fred Sachs, and Sally Simko. Photo by Elke Martin.

In The Dear Departed, the play opens in the 1930s as Canadian characters find themselves in a horrid scenario of their Dad’s recent death that morning. The five of them must deal with numerous concerns resulting in family squabbles – a legal document (will), the insurance policy that may or may not have been properly mailed on time ensuring its validity, and an appropriate newspaper obituary.

Husband and wife Sally Simko and Fred Sachs each do a superb job in convincing the audience of their sincerity concerning their dear departed Dad, while Marge Krape, who plays their ten year old daughter, convincingly and playfully wraps a rope around her neck in the opening scene, with both facial and gasping for breath.

Fred walks onto the stage and hangs his hat on the coat rack (as he probably doess every night of his life) and shuffles over to the easy-chair and sits down. It is noted that this is Christian Sahle-Selassi’s first play for Greenspring and the result of his directorial efforts are superb.  When the big surprise develops in the last 10 minutes of the play, Bob Fettterolf makes his grand entrance. Hats off to this wannabe actor who has finally stepped forward and assumed his very first theatrical role.

Most of the action takes place center stage in the dining room surrounded by four chairs, a fireplace, a plant and a curio cabinet. One of the funniest lines belongs to Patti Ryan (playing the second daughter) as she and her husband Jim Weedon join the cast on stage. Patti asks, “Would you like to go up and look at our dead Dad or would you rather have tea first?” The entire cast quickly agrees, “Let’s have tea!”

Kudos to Ginny King and Ray Magliozzi, who are in charge of the costumes, who really dress their cast in costumes appropriate for such a deadly occasion. The Dear Departed, although set in the 1930s, has an all too ominous familiar ring as to what results in such family situations even today.

'2nd Best Bed': L to R: Elizabeth Belmonte, Marian Urnikis, and Carolyn Posey. Photo by Ellie Martin.

‘2nd Best Bed’: L to R: Elizabeth Belmonte, Marian Urnikis, and Carolyn Posey. Photo by Elke Martin.

The second play…Second Best Bed honors the one and only William Shakespeare on his 450th birthday. The play is based partially on history since the second best bed is part of Shakespeare’s will, and the demise of this famous English playwright and his wife Anne Hathaway, delightfully played by Marian Umikis. Its focuses on Shakespeare’s bequest and his wife’s entitlement to it.

It’s not only the family, it’s also the neighbors who are involved in the rumors and gossip flying from the mouths of the five members of the all-female cast. We eventually discover the truth comes from the mouths of Sue Franke and Eloise Stinger, who play Shakespeare’s daughters.

Apparently, Anne is not entitled to any land, house or money…just the bed!   Anne continually attempts to defend Will for leaving her such a valuable heirloom, while the neighbors criticize Mr. Shakespeare for his lack of caring and credibility for his endearing and committed wife. Once again, the script has a surprise ending.

The sound effects coming from off-stage create wonder and disbelief as to what has transpired. Director Caroline Boubin and her assistant John Carle both pushed the envelope in maintaining the disbelief as we were transported on this historical journey. With the creative help of Wardrobe Designers Susan Gerhard and Marie Bilello, the characters’ costumes of the early 1600s are admirable.

'Beginning of Business': L to R: Howard Wachspress and Herb Bartlett. Photo by Ellie Martin.

‘Beginning of Business’: L to R: Howard Wachspress and Herb Bartlett. Photo by Elke Martin.

The Beginning of Business is the third and final play of the evening focusing on the activities of a father and son team, which takes place in 200 BCE (before the cart era). The short, but ingenious, humorous piece, aptly directed by Jim McLuckie, takes a detailed look at the son’s invention of the wheel and how it might revolutionize society; yet, events are revealed that might hinder the wheel’s evolution. The council of elders comes to the rescue and eventually agree to pass a patent law to ensure the viability of the invention.

Both father and son throughout the play are dressed in cavemen type costumes…that really transport the audience back in time, as the audience analyzes the plausibility of what you are experiencing.

Howard Wachspress and Herb Bartlett respectively play the roles of father and son. Susan Gerhard and Marie Bilello again take responsibility for wardrobe as they did in The Second Best Bed. Weaving into the play such terms as ‘R&D,’ ‘Public Relations Director,’ and ‘50% less than their competition’ all help to make the play both experiential and realistic. Despite the cave men mentality, you might really be watching a meeting of a Fortune 500 company on the New York Stock Exchange.

I strongly urge you to come see these fine experienced actors in Spring Trio tomorrow and Saturday.

Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

Greenspring Retirement Community.

Greenspring Retirement Community.

Spring Trio – 2016 plays through May 21,  2016 at the Greenspring Retirement Communitys Village Theater – 7410 Spring Village Drive, in Springfield, VA.  Remaining performances are Friday, May 20, 2016 at 7 PM, and Saturday, May 21st at 2 PM. Tickets are $5.00.

LINKS:

‘Shakespeare with a Twist – Revisited’ at The Greenspring Players by Eric Denver by Eric Denver.

Greenspring Players-A Retirement Community Theatre Troupe-Performs ‘Dial M for Murder’ From November 11-15th by Eric Denver.

‘Dial “M” for Murder’ at the Greenspring Players by Eric Denver.

Greenspring Players-A Retirement Community Theatre Troupe-Performs ‘Dial M for Murder’ From November 11-15th by Eric Denver.

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