'California Suite' is full of laughs


DUMMERSTON >> What happens when you mix a Neil Simon's play with direction by Robert DuCharme? Like mixing baking soda and vinegar, it's explosions of laughter. Vermont Theatre Company's production of "California Suite," often seen as a complement to Simon's east coast Plaza Suite, is a program of four vignettes, telling a different hilarious tale of marital tribulations in the same Los Angeles hotel room. One is of a divorced workaholic mom and her wayward daughter, in the other the husband wakes up to find himself in bed with tequilla and a hooker as his wife is due to arrive, in another a couple from London arrives as one is up for an academy award, and the other is of a couple who play tennis battling it out with rackets.

This is DuCharme's 118 production, bringing comedy and musicals to audiences for over 40 years, and the second time he has directed "California Suite." He graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in a class a year ahead of Robert Redford. Before moving to Brookline 30 years ago he had established and was head of the Drama Department of Hopkins in New Haven, Conn.

Ducharme said casting is key, and this cast is funny! He said each cast brings new talent and skills to a production. If an actor does something by accident, Ducharme will say "Keep it in," because it's funny! He said what is great about a Neil Simon play is you can plug in anything because of the dialogue. He added a good, humorous play can be therapy.

According to him rehearsals begin as a group of strangers gather in a room, gaining a sense of their characters as they read through the pages. Weeks progress and makeshift props begin to appear, characters are developed and lines are learned. One by one, by opening week all of the props are now real ones and everyone knows their part. DuCharme has done his job and it is now up to the cast. In this cast are Marilyn Tullgren and Frank Squindo as visitors from New York, George Adair, Peggy Treetop, Joanne Bourbeau are visitors from Philadelphia, Robert Wellington and Veda Crewe are visitors from London, and Mark Tullgren, Marilyn Tullgren, William Monahan, and Brenda Seitz are visitors from Chicago.

Performances are at the Evening Star Grange in Dummerston Center. Times and prices are Nov. 6, 7, 13, 14 at $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors; on Nov. 8, 12 and 15, all seats are $12. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. on Sundays.

DuCharme said to sit back, forget about all the bad things in the world today and enjoy. He said, "If you don't laugh, you get your money back!"

Make your reservations now by calling 802-258-1344 or online at vtcreservations@gmail.com.

For more information about California Suite and Vermont Theatre Company, visit them on Facebook, Twitter: @OfficialVTC, and at www.vermonttheatrecompany.org.

VTC's next production is A Christmas Carol, Dec. 10 through 20. VTC is dedicated to providing area audiences with high quality live performances and actively encouraging new people to join our efforts by always holding open auditions for all productions.

Contact Cicely M. Eastman at 802-254-2311 ext. 261.


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