The many countless hands behind making Portsmouth Little Theatre (PLT) successful are hard at work again, preparing their season-opening comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” promising a gut-busting fun evening of laughs and even a bit of nostalgia.
The story is by Christopher Durang, a playwright and actor known for his absurdist comedy style, which took the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play.
The story unfolds around three siblings and the family drama that has cozied up and made itself at home in their lives.
Middle-aged siblings Vanya and Sonia share a home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where they bicker and complain about the circumstances of their lives. Their lives are quickly interrupted when their movie-star sister, Masha, swoops in with her new boy toy, Spike.
Old resentments quickly flare up, eventually leading to threats of selling the family home, causing the already present anger and frustration to bubble over and drench everything in a mess of hilarious family drama.
The show also features many other quirky characters, such as the sassy maid, Cassandra, who can predict the future, and a young aspiring actress named Nina, whose prettiness somewhat worries Masha.
The show is cast with some serious PLT veterans, as well as some newer faces. Director Leigh Anne Smith said she chose the show because of the newness and the critical reception behind it, as well as the ability to bring back some of PLT’s more mature actors.
“I feel like we are kicking the 2015-2016 season off on the right foot, which is the funny foot,” Smith joked. “I had not seen the show, but I knew about it from its excerpts from the Tony Awards. I never dreamed we would get the rights to something so new, but, we read the show and loved it, applied for the rights and we were very excited to quickly receive permission.”
Smith said the show has been one of the best and most organized that she has been involved in.
“The cast is amazing. It is one of the most cohesive, well-bonded and respectful casts that I’ve been a part of in a long time. We have been off book for nearly two weeks and we still have a week before tech week is even here,” Smith said. “Everyone has been dedicated to the production and it shows.”
Smith said that she is also happy with her original casting, saying that each person has manifested their roles well.
“The actors haven taken to their characters very uniquely,” Smith said. “They aren’t typecast into their roles, but they portray them very, very well.”
Smith said that PLT President Jason Chaney has, once again, created a huge and detailed set that will undoubtedly take the theatre patrons into the country home of Vanya and Sonia in Pennsylvania.
“Jason was able to really get into my head, poor guy, and make the set that I pictured happen,” Smith explained. “He brought everything that I envisioned to life, building an absolutely beautiful set for the actors and the patrons to enjoy.”
Smith explained that she is also excited about an intimate experience for guests to enjoy during the show. Each showing will have two tables at the front of the stage, just before the audience. Each table will have a bottle of white and red wine, as well as fine chocolates and cheeses.
The tables are sponsored by Portsmouth Area Arts Council, the Party Connection and the Sweet Boutique. The tables will be raffled for $5 a ticket. Tickets are on sale until Sunday, September 20. The winners will be announced on Monday, September 21. Tickets can be purchased by asking a member of the cast or PLT board, or by making an inquiry on the PLT Facebook page.
The show is rated R and will open curtain on September 25 and 26 and October 2 and 3. The performances are at 7:30 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. Admission ranges from $10 to $12. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at www.pltlive.com. Portsmouth Little Theatre is at 1117 Lawson Street, Portsmouth, Ohio.
“Anyone making the show can expect to be entertained and laugh wholeheartedly,” Smith said. “This show has been a riot to be a part of and I am excited for people to catch it on opening night.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932 or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.