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      HOPEFULLY NOT THE LAST by Thomas Putnam

      handsWe had auditions last weekend and have begun rehearsals for Joe DiPietro's THE LAST ROMANCE. It feels so good to be back in the process of directing a play. Handing out scripts. Meeting for the first time. Hearing the various voices of the cast members in dialogue. Discovering the quirks and flaws and strengths and fun facts about the characters. Admiring the writing. Realizing that one line can and could be spoken in many different ways; how slight inflections of words or punctuation can change the whole feel of a scene. 

      Already, in one scene one of the characters reads a letter from her estranged husband. The whole scene is just her reading the letter. Question: so how does she read it? As if the husband were speaking? As if she is reading with expression? As if she is simply reading through the letter, sans much expression? Realization: what she does following the reading can say way more than any way she reads it. Does she sigh as if giving up? Does she fold up the letter neatly and tuck it in her sleeve or purse? Does she crumple it up and throw it away? Does she stand as if stunned and not move?

      Even with the little time since the rehearsals began we have discovered so much about these characters and the life choices they make and the secrets they keep and the... It's rich stuff.

      You may remember the playwright as the author of the the musical we performed years ago called I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE which dealt with relations of both married and unmarried couples. We also produced OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS which as you might guess from the title involves a young man who eats with his two sets of grandparents every Sunday afternoon. Of course, they are all trying to get him matched up with a young woman. Now in THE LAST ROMANCE we have three individuals in their golden years, trying to sort out their relationships. 

      Already I'm appreciating this cast and their focus and dedication. Gary Fizzano plays Ralph, a widower who is welcoming the possibility of another romance. Kathryn Sheneman plays Carol, a frequenter of the dog park, with whom Ralph falls in love. Anne Acker plays Rose, Ralph's sister who has a tendency to over-protect her older brother. And John Tobey Jr plays Ralph as a young man—and wait till you hear this young man sing. Other characters that we learn a great deal about but never see on stage are the three spouses (living and dead): Anna, Jerry, and Tony.

      I know it's a long way off, but mark your calendar: we run May 7, 8, 9 and 14, 15, 16 at the Warehouse. Masked and distanced. Get your vaccine so we won't have to be so concerned about being distanced.  

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