Over the River and Through the Woods

My husband, two friends and I treated ourselves to a night of theatre last week(Nov 3, 2012)….we went to Theater NOW’s production of Over the River and Through the Woods by Joe Pietro…..wonderful! The storyline is timeless (family, our ties to our families, friendships, love encouragement and all this covering different generations!) and the production values (set, costumes, lights, music) were exceptional. It is not easy to pull of shows with limited budgets but they did it. Smart casting brought us clear relationships and many moments of laughter. But above all, the message of family, provision, sacrifice and love came through loud and clear. Have a great run! Carol Kaiser-Milan

I saw the play on Sunday afternoon with my Mom and I thought the acting and writing were terrific. A well-written script by Joe DiPietro that is funny and touching at the same time. Having recently lost a grandparent, I found this to be a touching play. Stand out performances… Set decoration was also wonderful – Brent Latchaw

“This is a perfect Family Holiday show! I highly recommend it! Theater Now‘s Over the River and Through the Woods displays an inter-generational cast in a cozy black box theater. The show touches on so many universal themes of family, growing up and growing old. This production offers stellar performances with some of the best talent that the twin cities has to offer. Gini Adamas Rackner transforms before our very eyes and Robert Marcus delights the audience with his constant comedic quips. This show is a hilariously truthful look at the ways we strive to cope with family ties.”

Mary Stoyke- Singer and Songwriter

This exceptionally talented ensemble deftly transported me away from my own complex world full of anxiety and uncertainty into a warm and comfortable room where my feet felt firmly planted on the ground. Here, I was comforted with the knowledge that loving families and deep relationships are the key to restoring balance in a topsy-turvy world., excerpt from Susan Fronk…
Read the entire review…. http://www.mainstreetchamber-mn.org/2012/11/05/over-the-river-and-though-the-woods/

Over the River and Through the Woods is a wonderful, well acted play. It’s a great story that is both funny and sad. It’s so well done that its like being in the living room of the family!! G. Rackner

Donald Fox, on Workshop Your Dreams

This lovely evening with Ricky NolanBrenda and the Laurie Beth Fitz (daughter of the divine June Fitz) at THEATER NOW’s “Workshop your Dreams” was a greatly enjoyable night of readings and previews of this extraordinary new theater’s upcoming season. What I personally found exciting is that the vision that THEATER NOW has taken to heart is FAMILY in all of its forms; it looks at both the great and rememberable times of “what if” relationships as well as the sad and frustratingly funny behavior of loving and selfish grandparents. So, to all of my friends and collegues in St. Paul and MInneapolis: take a look at THEATER NOW’s Facebook page and like them to keep up with some interesting “small theater” oppotunities (only about 100 people can be seated in their new digs). Alternately, keep up with their website at www.theaternow.org. Exciting art is here! This is good stuff! Don’t walk…run!

Susan Marshall, on Collected Stories

Collected Stories is a 2 actor play about the relationship between a seasoned literary professor and an energetic promising student.  Most of the play transpires in the home of the somewhat eccentric professor. The limited cast and limited setting could make for a long boring play; but quite the opposite ensues, as the richness of the acting potrays this bridge of the generations with a great deal of hope.  Although a successful professional, the professor has been battered by life and withdrawn into the safety of isolation.  Enter the young, full of life, student; wanting to learn from the sage and developing a relationship to her that could renew trust and and openess to life.  The professor was a replica of a professor I had experienced:  the details of her walk, lack of social skills, dishevelment, and absolute brilliance for her craft.  The contrast of the young student was in her openness, exuberance for life, and eagerness to develop her skills.  The bond that builds between these two women is heading in the direction of embracing and trusting life
when betrayal slams the door locking the professor back into mistrust; and leaving the student confused by her skillful success at the decimation of her mentor.  This play was artfully crafted and touchingly presented.

Susan  Marshall

from Susan Berard, on Brooklyn Boy

Brooklyn Boy is an engaging play from the very first lines of interaction between Eric Weiss and his hospitalized father, Manny; whom you realize is not going to get better.  The stilted conversation between Eric, who craves his Father’s approval, and his Father, who has no idea how to give approval; draws the audience into the adult child and parent dance experienced by many.  Eric has just very successfully published a book, but finds his life spinning out of his control and shaking his foundation.  Various scenes show Eric’s wife leaving him, the movie deal for his play cast with a “super star” who does not fit the part, the loss of his father, and reconnection with an old friend who Eric no longer has anything in common with, but provides the only support to sustain him.  The cast of characters lose their theatrical personae and become real people that you care about.  With enough humor and lightheartedness to keep from becoming too heavy, this play and cast entertained and touched particularly middle aged people with poignant realities of life.
Upon leaving the theater, my friends and I shared personal reflections about our own relationships with aging parents and adult children.

Amity Carlson

I saw Collected Stories last spring. I was very impressed with this show. The performances were lively and engaging. There are only two characters in this play, and it can be challenging for an actor to keep their performance fresh and energized when they are onstage though out the entire show. Actresses Gini Adams and Claire Hayner pulled this off with flying colors. I really cared about these two women and was very drawn into their story. A very enjoyable night of theater.

From Carol kaiser-milan

I was fortunate to see Brooklyn Boy…wow, what a lovely, moving, touching piece of theatre! The story is familiar for anyone with “roots” (we all have ‘em!) and the relationships that keep our hearts beating. The genuine, very “present” acting by the cast made it all the more enjoyable. Marguiles certainly knows how to write a play and this cast and director did an amazing job honoring his work. Small theaters often have small budgets with which to produce their work….no exception here so my friend and I appreciated the simple yet complete set. Lighting could have been better but then, oh ya, that might require a little more money! Keep up the great work–the Twin Cities and the world of theater needs you!

from Brent Latchaw

In the spring of 2011…I saw productions of Brooklyn Boy and Collected Stories at the Minneapolis Theater Garage. Both were very well written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Donald Marguiles and skillfully directed by Brooklyn transplant Robert Marcus. In Collected Stories, Gini Adams shines as short story writer Ruth Steiner and Claire Hayner wonderfully portrays her student and protégée Lisa Morrison with intelligence and wit. I was glued to the stage by every breathtaking line of the play. Brooklyn Boy also delivered a well-written script following new-found playwright Eric Weiss delightfully portrayed by David Lilienthal. Everything is not rose-colored in Eric’s world as his father is sick, his marriage is on the rocks and his friend from the old neighborhood confronts him about facts taken from life and used in the novel. Eric’s wife Nina is well-played by Eve Black and Eric’s adoring fan/potential fling is well-acted by Emily Dussault. Well done by Minnesota Productions!

In the spring of 2010…I saw a production of It’s Outta Here at the Minnesota History Theater. I have to admire Robert Marcus for putting on a clever and well-written show comprised of all local Minnesota talent (writers, actors, director). Each of the nine skits were baseball related vignettes that made me ponder and chuckle about how pervasively baseball effects our lives and those of our family members. The game is a common American thread to which everyone can relate and so each scene had something for fans and non-fans. The clever finale of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s “Whose on First?” routine was like salt on the peanuts.

Your family-generation picks for upcoming readings/workshops

If you know of plays that fit within Theater NOW’s mission and feel we should all review it, please post it here. If you know an author or writer who you really enjoy and would like him/her to submit work, please let us know his/her name. We look forward to your suggestions….