Ditch the 3-D glasses: Catch this play instead

By February 14, 2011

YOUNG AT HEART — Paul Greisen, Hazel Johnson and Charlie Holliday star in Sutter Street Theatre's original production, "There Should Be Roses." Photo by Allen Schmeltz Productions

Before the invention of 3-D movies, there was true entertainment in three dimensions: Live theater, where the actors and the audience have the opportunity to interact during the show. Moments can be extended for laughter … or tears.

Live theater is the perfect medium for Dave William’s play, “There Should Be Roses,” now making its West Coast Premier at Sutter Street Theatre in Folsom.

I can’t decide what best describes this play: A comedy, a love story, a touching tale or a work that will really make the audience think long after the curtain falls … certainly all the above. In short, it’s brilliant.

The play centers on two best friends who are residents of a senior retirement home in San Francisco. Lester Blum (played by Charlie Holliday) is determined to “break out” of the home so he can deliver roses to his wife’s grave in Oakland on their 60th anniversary. Albert Smith (played by Paul Greisen) won’t let Lester go into the dangerous outside world alone … and the adventure begins, with one laugh quickly following another. Albert and Lester are clearly young souls dealing with the challenges of aging bodies that betray them.

A parallel plot  is the complicated romance of Kevin (Colin Coate) and Megan (Yuri Tajiri), a young couple in their 20s who both work in the senior residence home. They wonder if it is possible for love to last 60 years, and ponder the real value of senior citizens.

“These ‘old people,’ as you call them, are somebody’s husbands and wives,” Megan says. “They are parents. They were once little innocent children. They have lived and loved, they’ve laughed and cried a thousand times more than we have and for reasons you and I cannot imagine … These old people are us sixty years from now, Kevin.”

This comedy has a surprise twist ending that no one sees coming (that’s all the spoiler you’ll get here). The dialog in the play is engaging throughout.

“This play is an absolute joy,” said Connie Mockenhaupt, director. “The moment I saw this script, I knew we had to produce it.”

Lead actor Charlie Holliday is a noted thespian whose recent credits include Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter,” as well as numerous film and television credits.

“I’m thrilled to be doing this West Coast premier of another of my dear friend Dave Williams’ wonderful plays,” writes Holliday in the program.

“I actually didn’t apply for any other acting jobs when I tried out for this role (as Albert),” said Paul Greisen, who has appeared in a variety of productions in the Sacramento region for many years. “I hadn’t seen much of Williams’ work before, but when I read this play, I knew that I just had to be in it.”

Williams, of KFBK and blog writing fame (“The Aging of Aquarius”), is a Sacramento native now residing in Los Angeles. He has a keen sense of humor and a flair for noting the ironies of life.

In his notes for the audience, he writes, “Young people…need to understand that inside every old and deteriorating body lives a young spirit of a man or woman who once loved and laughed and still has an enormous capacity for learning and teaching.”

“We need to honor and respect our seniors as some other societies do, not belittle and otherwise ignore them,” Williams writes in the program notes. “That’s the message of ‘Roses.’”

Amy Brandolino does a fine job as the cold administrator of the senior home, Mrs. MacMurtle, as does Jackie Clauson as Dottie Fairburn, a senior resident of the home. Gina Hillmer, Shane Burrows and Dylan Gray round out the cast.

This play is fine for ages 16 and up; it contains some mild language and adult situations.

“There Should Be Roses” runs through March 13. The Sutter Street Theatre is located at 717 Sutter St. in Old Town Folsom. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. Tickets are $23 general, $21 seniors and SARTA members, and $15 for children ages 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased at the door, but for best availability, call (916) 353-1001. Also visit sutterstreettheatre.com.

Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to [email protected]

Susan Laird


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