February 14 - March 9, 2008
by Craig Lucas, Portland premiere.
This romantic comedy is the
perfect show to open on Valentine's Day! A young couple meet and fall in love.
When a mysterious stranger appears at the wedding everything changes. The show
is charming and warm with a cast of 12. Prelude to a Kiss is a great way
to cast of the winter blues. Nominated for two Tony Awards including Best Play.
the finest play of the season!" - Rolling Stone;
"A piece of perfection"
- The Village Voice
"I loved this play... propels the audience through emotional
hairpin turns... exhilerating..." - New York Times
"...a fun play, but
also oddly, unexpectedly moving." - New York Post
PLACES: THE AFTERMATH OF THE ‘PRELUDE’
The Portland Phoenix, 2/20/2008
by Megan Grumbling
the cumulative serendipities of sleeplessness, spaetzle, and Molson, young Peter
(Brian Chamberlain) and Rita (Tess Van Horn) find love in New York City. Immediately.
Abidingly. From the moment they meet, at a party thrown by Rita’s neighbor Taylor
(Christopher Reilling), their course is set for swift, witty, irresistible courtship.
Six weeks later, marriage seems the next logical step. So far, so good. But almost
as soon as they exchange vows, man and wife find that something has happened,
something that will make their honeymoon in Jamaica a real drag: Rita is no longer
the same person. It’s a literal transformation: When a mysterious old wedding-crasher
(Chris Horton) gives the bride a kiss, cosmic forces orchestrate an exchange of
their souls. So when Rita’s body starts doing out-of-character things, like calling
Peter “puppy-puppy” and refusing drinks, her new husband is, to say the least,
alarmed. Once he figures it out, sexual frustrations are only the beginning of
the practical and allegorical dilemmas of Craig Lucas’s Prelude to a Kiss, in
a warm and snappy production by the Good Theater, directed by Robert Fish.
the heart of the play is the visceral chemistry between Rita and Peter, and Fish
has cast it marvelously. In the hands of Van Horn and Chamberlain, their connection
is not just convincing, but rather delightful. New lovers always run the risk
of annoying us with their clichés and giddiness, but this pairing avoids that
trap with plenty of humor and irony. When Peter, narrating the beginning of courtship,
announces that “the spell was cast,” his mouth has a wonderfully wry set to it
- he’s sincere, but also mercifully aware of how cheesy he sounds.
typical of Chamberlain’s fine, funny, and intelligent performance opposite Van
Horn, who is sharp and simply radiant. Also commendable is how true-to-life and
recognizable these two well-paired actors make the couple’s (very compressed)
progression into love. Gazes lengthen and evolve; a lean turns to an impulsive
clutch at an arm, and then to a familiar hold. They get the tones and gestures
After the cosmic switcheroo, Van Horn has another tough job:
to portray the personality and mannerisms of an old man inhabiting an unfamiliar
young female body. But good directing and instincts make it a remarkably plausible
proposition. She splays her legs, slumps, gives Peter blunt, meaty pats on the
shoulder, shuffles around uncertainly. The change in Horton, once his old man
is inhabited by Rita, is less overt, less physical. Although Horton employs a
few distinctly feminine gestures (excitedly pushing shoulders back and chest out;
sitting with hands on tight-pressed knees), we hear Rita, in cadences and intonation,
more than see her. Given the limitations of the aged body she’s inside, that makes
a certain sense, but it would still be nice to get a little more physicality from
Horton, particularly in the scene when the two finally confront each other.
production brings new blood to the Good Theater, notably including Van Horn and
Reilling (who’s great as Peter’s funny-dorky co-worker - part cartoon, part rubber-band).
Among the slew of talented regulars in Prelude is the hilarious pairing of Stephen
Underwood and Cathy Counts as Rita’s respectable but slightly kooky parents; their
decorous hen-pecking and rolled eyes at each other are worth the price of admission.
little glints of marital discord, in an otherwise affectionate relationship, are
also clues to the subtler theme behind Rita and Peter’s soul-shifting adventure:
no personality is empirical, static, or perfect, and what you marry is not a done
deal. Instead, as Rita’s mom explains earnestly to Peter, people and circumstances
shift constantly, are dynamic. Janet Montgomery’s attractive, Expressionist set
gets at this spirit beautifully - might those sponged wine and ivory colors evoke
first lust? Champagne bubbles? Our ever-changing, ever-aging cellular matter?
Fairy dust, or the substance of a soul? Whatever it is, there’s enough flux in
it as to be effervescent.
Cast & Crew
Old Man-Chris Horton
Dr. Boyle-Stephen Underwood
Uncle Fred-Will Sandstead
Jamaican Waiter-Alex Kopack
Directed by Robert Fish
Lighting Design-Jamie Grant
Assistant Technical Director/Photography-Craig Robinson
Production Stage Manager-Joshua Hurd
- Denise Poirier
Assistant Stage Manager - Natasha Mieskowski
- Donna Graves, Tom Foley Craig Robinson