Need a laugh? Come out to 'The Porch'
These are just a couple of ways to describe “The Porch,” the Potomac Playmakers’ second show of the season which approaches the seriousness of life with a twist of humor among lifelong friends.
“The Porch,” is directed by Cathy James with Rachael Thompson. James, of Boonsboro, said she had been familiar with Jack Neary’s comedy, and was very happy to get to direct it.
“I really, really liked the characters and the message and I liked the comedy,” James said. “I find it historically funny and incredibly moving.”
“The Porch” takes place over Labor Day weekend in 2006. Three friends, all women in their late 50s or early 60s, sit on a front porch and comment — sometimes graphically — on anything and everything in their purview. Over the course of the play, their husbands are introduced into the action.
Many topics are addressed, but under the camaraderie is a secret that won’t be revealed until the penultimate scene, which cements the bond established among these lifetime friends. Laughs abound from the very first scene and rarely let up. But then, since it’s a comedy about real people, life steps in, plots twist, and lives change. It’s a play about the challenge of enduring friendships, and has been compared to “The Golden Girls” and “Steel Magnolias.”
The ensemble production features Greg Berezuk, Wanda Dittmann, Tom Doty, Kim Jones and Paulette Lee.
“These five characters are just really strong and defined and these actors. ... they are just awesome to work with. They just know what I want before I ask them,” James said. “They are phenomenally experienced actors. I said one night that I thought there was about 200 years of acting experience in this group.”
Paulette Lee, of Frederick, Md., plays Alma. She said Alma appears to be naive, sheltered and a bit shallow but that turns out to not be the case at all.
“She is a pivotal character. She is the one that evolves the most and her story is central to the plot of the play. This is what I like most about playing this role. I have the chance to be comedic and dramatic with the same character,” Lee said.
The biggest challenge, Lee said, has been to evaluate the character, understand her, and get into the depths of the character while still being funny. She said a psychologist came in to talk with the actors to help them better understand their characters.
“To play a character, well you have to dig down deeper than just the lines you are given and you have to understand the character in order for the audience to understand the character,” Lee said.
Dittmann, of Hagerstown, takes on the role of Marjorie.
“She’s a very compassionate person and is very strong in her beliefs. Of the three women in the play, she has a broader view of the world,” Dittman said. “In many ways, she is very much like who I’ve become as I’ve gotten older. She doesn’t take nonsense from people and she is very protective of her friends, and I like that a lot.”From left, Tom Doty, Wanda Dittmann, Kim Jones, Greg Berezuk and Paulette Lee sing during a scene from “The Porch.” (Courtesy of The Potomac Playmakers)
She said all of the women characters in the show are very funny even when they are talking about something serious and that the first act of the play she expects non-stop laughter, but the second act the characters get more depth.
“They deal with a lot of very serious things in life with humor, things which can be very challenging for some people. I think a lot of the older people in the audience will see themselves in these women,” Dittmann said.
The play contains suggestive language and adult themes, and may not be appropriate for younger audiences. Parental discretion is advised.
“The Porch,” which is sponsored in part by a grant from the Washington County Arts Council, will run Nov. 15-17 and Nov. 22-24, at Zion Lutheran Church, located at 31 W. Potomac St., Williamsport. Showtimes for Friday and Saturday performances is 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 3 p.m.
Tickets for each performance cost $15, and can be purchased at the door or online in advance at www.potomacplaymakers.org.
For more information, visit the website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-382-7269.
Top photo: Tom Doty, sitting, rehearses a scene from “The Porch” with Greg Berezuk. (Courtesy of The Potomac Playmakers)