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Actors’ Summit revitalizes past success

8/14/2014 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

Shown is a scene from Actors’ Summit Theater’s production of “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding.”
Photo courtesy of Actors’ Summit Theater
DOWNTOWN AKRON — In celebration of the Gay Games 9, Actors’ Summit Theater resurrected and polished “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wicca Wedding.” The company produced this play about two years ago and, now, with a few changes in the cast, has brought the show back for our entertainment. In addition to entertaining, this production resonates with truth and honesty.

According to the script and the promotional material, this is a true story written by a son in honor of his mother. David Hein and Irene Carl Sankoff (playwrights) are married and played leading roles in the first production of this play.

The story traces the life of Claire (Aubrey Caldwell), who leaves her husband, Garth (Keith Stevens) and moves from Nebraska to Canada to teach at a university. She leaves her son, Young David (Daniel Hoy), with her husband and a promise that Young David soon will visit her in Canada.

Claire, Garth and Young David have adjustment problems, and those problems develop the plot.

Claire meets Jane (Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski), and slowly their friendship blossoms into romance and moves toward the wedding promised in the play’s title.

Young David matures into David (Kevin P. Kern), who tells the story of his mother’s self-discovery. David sings the song “A Short History of Gay Marriage,” which is breathtaking in its speed and ends with Canada passing a law that permits same-sex marriage. 

Kern accompanies himself on guitar for his songs. He is a talented actor and is repeating the role he originated two years ago at Actors’ Summit Theater.

The script has several roll-out scenes. In one, several of the characters go to Hooters restaurant for dinner. The laughs grow as some characters are embarrassed and others have the time of their lives.

Caldwell, Stevens and Sniadak-Yamokoski make the pleasure and pain of self-discovery evident to the audience. Caldwell has one of the script’s most interesting roles as she grows and changes and as her character adjusts to her dramatic self-discovery. This gifted actress brings her talents to the stage and evokes all of the emotions that go with radical self-discovery. Sniadak-Yamokoski, too, is a fine actress, blessed with an outstanding voice.

Hoy may be the youngest cast member, but he holds his own with the older, more mature actors. He not only makes Young David emotionally strong as his mother leaves him to move to Canada, but in the outlandish scene set in Hooters, he also plays one of the Hooters waitresses.

Hoy has an impressive list of performance credits. He will be a freshman at Baldwin-Wallace University this fall. This talented actor’s performance is worth the price of admission. See the show and earn the right to say, “I saw him when.”

Neil Thackaberry (director) helped his performers develop well-defined characters. While the plot wrestles with the difficulty of starting over, the script does have a soap opera quality. I attempt to dismiss that because the story is autobiographical and the playwright has only two acts to tell a complicated love story. Yet, the story is still current.

J.T. Buck (musical director) is accompanied by Scott Sexton (drums on Thursday through Saturday) and Erik Diaz (drums on Sunday) and Kevin P. Kern (guitar). The musicians support the singers and never overpower them or the lyrics.

In addition to directing the show, Thackaberry designed the set, which has several Human Rights Campaign logos on screens behind the instrumentalists. 

“My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding” plays only two weekends to complement the Gay Games and continues at Actors’ Summit through Aug. 17. For ticket information, call 330-374-7568.

 

David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.

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