by Michael Romito
I had the pleasure of attending the opening night’s performance of Sean Grennan’s Now and Then. Having read the play, knowing the creative team, and being familiar with most of the extremely talented cast, I was assured this would be a wonderful experience. It was beyond that.
(Set Design by Cameron Purdy, Set Dressing and Art by Colleen Algeo)
While waiting for the curtain to open, I expected to be listening to some traditional Irish tunes that I would have heard if I were anywhere else that night. After all, it was St. Patrick’s Day and once that curtain opened I knew I would be brought into an Irish pub. But the creative team of Now and Then decided to forgo the tradition of playing familiar songs to complement the show and instead opted for original piano music by the very talented Michael Borowski. This music set a different tone. This bar would not be filled with drunken revelers. This bar was going to host a very intimate group. Michael’s music foreshadowed the many emotions that these people would feel – intimacy, love, joy, sadness, confusion, regret.
(Noah Baliles as Jamie & Bill Algeo as Man)
Few shows in community theater start with the curtain closed. And while the audience waits, they examine the set. No chance here. Although set designer, Cameron Purdy and scenic artist, Collen Algeo deserve praise for their incredible recreation of Mulligan’s Irish Pub, there is little time for the audience to be distracted by their artistry once the mysterious stranger walks through the door.
Nearly half the first act has us questioning what is happening with this mysterious stranger, expertly portrayed by veteran actor, Bill Algeo, and this affable bartender, brought to life by the extremely talented Noah Baliles. Their faces depict a myriad of expressions, and a discerning onlooker may perceive more than words elicit.
( Bill Algeo as Man)
One must credit the superb acting from these two, as well as the two women we meet later, but one cannot overlook the skilled hand of one of DCP’s most prolific directors, Ray Thompson, who is most certainly pleased with the choices he has made. In my opinion, directing community theater is the most difficult job of a production. In any other entertainment experience, many people support a production, and indeed many able people have supported this production. But in community theater, the director is tasked with finding these able people. A big-budget movie has a company seeking the best available from a large pool of talent. In a community theater the pool is much-less Olympic-sized and more wading pool. Reading the program, you will find many familiar DCP names. These people are amateurs, they do it for the love of the theater, and in most Ray Thompson productions, for the love of Ray. Ray’s talent and vision, bring out the best of the best and people line up to be part of a Ray Thompson production, because they know he will guide them to be better at their craft. And everyone involved with this production does not dis appoint. We usually focus on the actors, but in addition to the set, one cannot dismiss the incredible lighting design of Mike Addice, nor the overwhelming task of producer, Beth Cohen, who both quickly latch on to any Ray Thompson work.
(Geneé Foulkes as Abby, Noah Baliles as Jamie & Bill Algeo as Man)
But let’s get back to the actors. The two gentlemen, great though they are, are often overshadowed by Geneé Foulkes (a newcomer to DCP and one we hope to see again) and Nancy Server Thompson, who energizes every performance. These two women give their counterparts an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, all four giving each other what they need, whether they know it or not; and it’s usually these ladies who come out on top.
(Geneé Foulkes as Abby, Nancy Server Thompson as Woman)
One reads a review expecting to learn a bit about the play. Well, a bit is all you’ll get. It is life – romance, comedy, drama. If you enjoy life, romantic comedies, a little drama, I hope you enjoy this play as much as I. But you will see something in this play that you rarely (and I truly mean, rarely) see. Now and Then is a treasure mined by playwright Sean Grennan. It is a play about two couples at different times in their lives. To tell you more would be to deny you the experience of Now and Then. You will question many things you see onstage and maybe even in your own life story – and wonder. This is more than a play. This is a chance for introspection. This is a play that asks us to think about the decisions we make and how they will affect us – to think about what might have been had we chosen a different path – to reflect on any regrets, and ask was it worth it? I hope you decide to see Now and Then. It’s worth it.
(Noah Baliles as Jamie, Geneé Foulkes as Abby, Nancy Server Thompson as Woman & Bill Algeo as Man)
Now and Then plays on the DCP Mainstage this weekend Thursday-Saturday at 8:00pm and Sunday at 2:00pm. Tickets available online, by phone or at the boxoffice.