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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: October 18, 2016

Good Theater begins its season with a family comedy

Written by: Bob Keyes
Laura Houk as Sonia, Noelle LuSane as Cassandra, Meredith Lamothe as Nina and Paul Haley as Vanya. Photo by Steve Underwood

Laura Houk as Sonia, Noelle LuSane as Cassandra, Meredith Lamothe as Nina and Paul Haley as Vanya. Photo by Steve Underwood

For a variety of reasons, Brian Allen had never directed a play by Christopher Durang. It was not for a lack of interest; he loves Durang’s outrageous sense of humor.

“It was really more about timing,” Allen said. “I waited the right amount of time to do his best play.”

This week, Good Theater opens its season with Durang’s Tony Award-winning play “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” Allen is the theater company’s artistic director. The show is on stage at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland through Nov. 20.

The play is about siblings Vanya and Sonia, who live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and had been caring for their now-deceased elderly parents. Their movie-star sister comes home with her young boyfriend, Spike. When she arrives, she announces she is selling the family home.

“Hilarity ensues and emotions fly,” Allen said. “This is a family comedy about relationships. There’s a reason it won a Tony Award for best play. It was more than the production. It was the play itself. Durang is a masterful writer.”

Meredith Lamothe as Nina and Marshall Taylor Thurman as Spike. Photo by Steve Underwood

Meredith Lamothe as Nina and Marshall Taylor Thurman as Spike.
Photo by Steve Underwood

Mindful of the political season, Allen wanted to open his theater season with a comedy. “I think it’s important for people to come together and laugh a little,” he said. “I wanted to start the season with something very funny, because I knew we would be in the middle of this political campaign.”

The play won the best-play Tony in 2013 and received five other Tony nominations, in addition to several other awards.

The play is set in the family home in the summer and features the largest set that Good Theater has built, designed by Craig Robinson. The cast includes Good Theater regulars Paul Haley as Vanya, Laura Houck as Sonia, Lisa Stathoplos as Masha and newcomer Marshall Taylor Thurman as Spike. Also in the cast are Meredith Lamothe and Noelle LuSane.

“Vanya and Spike and Masha and Spike” by Good Theater

WHERE: St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland
WHEN: Though Nov. 20 with performances at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
TICKETS AND INFO: $22 to $30, 885-5883 or goodtheater.com

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