Local Theatre Group Provides Drama, Romance & Laughs In Latest Production
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After opening their new venue in February, a local theatre group is continuing the momentum.
As the second play of their current season, Post Productions will soon premiere their presentation of Diana Son’s Stop Kiss at the Shadowbox Theatre (located at 103B – 1501 Howard Avenue, on the corner of Howard and Shepherd.) Debuting on Friday, May 11th, the show is one that captured director/producer Michael O’Reilly’s attention immediately.
Reading the script cover to cover in a Berkley, California, used bookstore, he knew it was a perfect fit and shared it with the Post Productions team.
“The script won [O’Reilly] over effortlessly – and he isn’t an easy mark,” said director/producer, Michael K. Potter. “He loaned it to me and it had the same effect. I loved the story, the characters, the unique structure, the themes. Everything about it spoke to me. It moved me and made me think. Our slogan at Post Productions is ‘Real life. Real lives,’ and that’s what Stop Kiss feels like: it feels like you’re witnessing real people trying their best to cope with what life throws their way.”
Living in New York since her college graduation, Callie (played by producer Fay Lynn) is a traffic reporter. Getting the job through some fortunate connections, she has trouble engaging and usually comments without getting involved. Despite being in her 30’s the character’s career goals are still up in the air (figuratively and literally,) so the job represents where she’s at in life.
Having Sara (played by Lauren Crowley) show up at her front door fresh from St. Louis, Callie soon becomes interested by her earnestness and sense of purpose: Both are unfamiliar traits to Callie and her best friend with benefits, George (played by Dan MacDonald.)
The play revolves mostly around Callie and Sara from there. With different personalities, the two develop a close friendship that gets interrupted by tragedy right before it becomes romantic. Because of this, the play itself is a comedy, tragedy and love story all rolled into one.
“Different people will experience the unique blend of romance, tragedy and comedy in their own ways,” said Potter. “For me, it’s an inspiring story about charming people striving to do their best, both before and after tragedy tests their mettle. The tragedy of the play is a moment that doesn’t last, that can’t last, because the two women at the heart of the story are strong resilient people. Maybe stronger than they know.”
After jumping into the material, those involved began tackling the challenges that came with it: Navigating a structure that went back and forth in time while balancing different emotional tones were on the top of that list.
Beyond that, another challenge quickly turned into an opportunity for the production.
“We have an opportunity to tell a love story that happens to involve a same-sex relationship,” said Potter. “That shouldn’t be as uncommon as it is, but think about it: nearly every love story you see onstage or onscreen is still, in 2018, about a heterosexual relationship. On the rare occasion it isn’t, the story is usually ABOUT the fact that the characters are gay, not about the romance itself. That’s bizarre to us. I mean, Romeo and Juliet isn’t ABOUT the fact that its protagonists are straight, is it?”
Auditions for Post Productions are thorough, but this took it to another level. Staging challenging plays, the process generally becomes long and exhausting while making sure actors can handle the material.
On top of that, Stop Kiss also needed leads who shared believable chemistry.
“If the audience doesn’t believe they’re into each other, the play will fall apart,” said Potter. “That’s what made the audition process for Stop Kiss so intense. We had some really great people come out for the audition but in the end, the chemistry between Fay Lynn and Lauren Crowley was so obvious and strong that we couldn’t ignore it.”
Other roles weren’t as difficult to fill but still had some challenges. While Matt Froese is playing Peter and Alex Alejandria will step into the part of Detective Cole, they were originally awarded to actors who dropped out. Still, the directors now find it hard to picture anyone else playing the characters.
Tying things together, local artist Flower Face has also contributed music to the production. Being introduced to her work by his son when she was in high school, Potter admits that the melancholy in her songs is his weak spot.
While working on True West, he and O’Reilly discussed how her music could give Stop Kiss a boost. Afterwards, Potter contacted the artist out of the blue and a collaboration grew from there.
“She sent me some songs that were unreleased at that point and they just fit,” he said. “I could see the play in my head when I heard them. Over time, Flower Face’s music became essential to the way we’re telling the story. Her music forms he connective tissue that ties everything together emotionally and that helps the audience follow the story as well.”
Of course, the play wouldn’t work without the unsung heroes of the production too.
“There are 23 short scenes in STOP KiSS, which means 22 transitions,” said O’Reilly. “We knew we needed a stage crew that was quick and nimble in addition to professional. Our stage crew is comprised of Sadie Alejandria and Julia Pastorius. They are young, but very experienced and dead serious. From the first rehearsal they have been on the scene making prop lists and run sheets, solving problems and just getting things done. We couldn’t have done better.””
When the play opens this Friday, it will be another feather in the cap for Post Productions. As support grows for the LGBTQ community, the show is also another step in the right direction.
“This may sound like a truism, but STOP KISS normalizes normal behaviour,” said O’Reilly. “Two people fall in love not because they are the correct genders, but because they love each other. You love who you love.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by the cast as well.
“Stop Kiss is a beautiful show,” Crowley said on Post Production’s blog. “It takes a variety of perspectives on relationships between people, how they form and how they influence our lives. The story is beautiful and tragic with great bits of humour thrown in. The characters are very relatable and I have no doubt the audience will see pieces of themselves in each of us on stage. Not to mention my cast-mates are all such incredibly talented, genuine people and they are truly a joy to watch. The show will make you feel, it will make you think. It will make you want to hold your loved ones close and remind you how important it is to speak your love.”
In addition to Lynn, Crowley, MacDonald, Froese and Alejandria, the play stars Cindy Pastorius as Mrs. Winsley. Performances will take place at the Shadowbox Theatre on May 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 24th, 25th, 26th at 8pm with doors opening at 7pm.
Those interested in attending can purchase tickets for $20 at Post Productions website.