Foothills Theatre’s winter production of “Over the River and Through the Woods” opens Friday at 7 p.m. in the fellowship hall of Elkin First Baptist Church, with additional performances on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $12 and include tiramisu cupcakes by Debbie Hoover of D&F Catering, coffee or tea.
Doors to the fellowship hall will open at 6:15 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Dessert will be served at 7 p.m. with curtain at 7:30 p.m. The play runs about two hours. Sunday doors will open at 1:15 p.m. with dessert served at 2 p.m. and curtain at 2:30 p.m. Seating is limited so early arrival is encouraged.
“Our play is billed as a comedy, but playwright Joe DiPietro has brought such depth to these characters and their lives, it is much more than just a comedy,” explained Director Leighanne Martin Wright. “It will choke you up if not bring you to tears by the end. But our Italian grandparents will also have you cracking up hysterically — so be prepared for a roller coaster of a play!”
“Over the River and Through the Woods” stars Morgan Harrison as Nick, Tommie Ann Tulbert as Aida, Suzanne Hillin as Emma, David Nielsen as Nunzio, Scott Carpenter as Frank, and Mary Johnson as Caitlin.
“Nick’s grandparents try to keep him from leaving New Jersey as his parents have done by enticing him with an introduction to the lovely Caitlin. The actors break the fourth wall and address the audience with their thoughts throughout the piece, giving us not only insight into their worlds, but also more understanding of their motives,” Wright said.
Hillin said she is sure that audiences will identify with the themes in the play.
“This has been such a wonderful, fun experience preparing for this play,” Hillin said. “It’s humorous, family-oriented, generational, and poignant. I think it will touch everyone who sees it on some level. I’m humbled and privileged to have had this opportunity.”
The often complicated nature of family is another theme the show’s actors appreciate and think audiences will enjoy.
“This play is funny, sad and very poignant,” Nielsen said. “I like that the family dynamic is not simple. There is no right answer to the question, ‘How much do you owe those who care about you?’ I think everyone will see some aspect of their family in these characters.”
The entire cast is excited to bring the production to the community, though they have faced challenges in preparing for the show.
“Even in community theater ‘the show must go on,’” Wright said. “I have been involved with Foothills Theatre since 1998 and in that time only once did the group postpone a performance. We usually cannot do that because the venue may not be available or the actors. Plus you’ve done all the advertising.
“A week ago our cast included Tom Beckom of Mount Airy as Frank,” Wright went on. “Sadly, Tom’s father passed and he had to step away. We were fortunate that Scott Carpenter, also of Mount Airy, was available and has been able to step in and play the role of Frank. Foothills Theatre knows Scott well as he has been in many of our shows, having just played Billy in last summer’s ‘Chicago,’ among other plays. By our fourth rehearsal with Scott, he was off-book and totally in character — he is an amazing actor. We hate that Tom cannot do the show after weeks of being a part of this fun cast, but he will be in our next two productions in the arts council garden, and we look forward to seeing him in those.”
Foothills Theatre will present two productions in the garden at Foothills Arts Council this spring. The first is to be an original comedy written by Wright entitled “Olivia de Havilland’s Birthday” followed by a production of “Cat on a Hot Roof” April 22, 23, 30 and May 1.
This summer the group will offer its annual Kidshop Theatre Camp June 13 through July 1. Registration details can be found at http://foothillsartscouncil.org/kidshop-theatre. Foothills Theatre also will stage the musical “Mary Poppins” in July. Auditions for “Mary Poppins” will be held May 9 and 15. For additional, details visit the group’s Facebook page.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.