Over the River and Through the Woods sounds like the opening to a Little Red Riding Hood story and while it is a family story about grandparents and their offspring, this title belongs to a play that evokes both laughter and heartwarming tears, says director Tony Savile.
“There is a good deal of humour throughout the play, but it is also very touching, about family relations,” Savile says.
“On the surface it is a comedy but it goes much deeper. A few people say they have shed a tear.”
The play is set in New Jersey where the grandparents of a single Italian-American youth, Nick, are trying to keep him from moving across the country to take his dream job in Seattle.
They introduce Nick to a girl they know in hopes the two will fall in love and Nick will find a job closer to home.
Nick’s own parents have already retired and moved to Florida, but the youth still visits both sets of his grandparents every Sunday for dinner.
“This is routine until he has to tell them that he’s been offered a dream job,” Savile says. “The job he’s been waiting for — marketing executive — would take him away from his beloved, but annoying, grandparents.
“He tells them.
“The news doesn’t sit so well. Thus begins a series of schemes to keep Nick around.
“Well, Frank, Aida, Nunzio and Emma do their level best, and that includes bringing to dinner the lovely — and single — Caitlin O’Hare as bait … we won’t give the ending away here,” Savile says.
Savile says the production includes several newcomers to the Studio Theatre stage and several veteran actors who have all have been great to work with.
Chris Armstrong plays the grandson Nick. Kara Pare plays Caitlin, the young woman the grandparents are trying to hook him up with so that he won’t take a job far from home.
Grandparents are played by Michael Rawluk (Frank), Curt Sprickerhoff (Nunzio), Cathie Hamm (Emma), and Sylvia Swift (Aida).
Rawluk and Sprickerhoff are veterans of theatre and have been in many plays.
“I’ve wanted to work with both of them for a long time,” Savile says.
Pare has played animals and inanimate objects such as a stove in school and Studio Theatre productions in the past, but this is her first time playing a human.
Although just 16, Savile says Pare plays a 25-year-old girl admirably.
Hamm has worked back stage on several productions in the last few years and this will be her first venture onto the stage in an acting role.
Savile says he was surprised and delighted with Hamm’s performance when she showed up for the auditions.
Swift, formerly a professional stage manager in Vancouver, is returning to acting after a couple of years working behind the scenes on Studio Theatre productions.
Armstrong is new to the Studio Theatre. This will be his first time on stage since high school 15 years ago.
The back stage crew includes Therisa Peimer, stage manager; Maggie Pugh is looking after costumes, front of house, and prompting actors during rehearsal; Stacey Poirier is the designated theatre guru; Sharon Hoffman and Mackenzie Moore are in charge of make-up; Carla Friesen-Martin handles the props; Dani Peimer, sound technician; Shane Tollefson, lighting technician.
Over the River and Through the Woods by Joe DiPietro, is the Studio Theatre’s latest offering on stage May 1 to 4 and May 8 to 11.
Tickets for the production are available at The Open Book and About Face Photography.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the shows start at 8 p.m. sharp.