‘Jake’s Women’ opens at Church Hill Theatre

Record Observer - - Arts & Entertainment -

CHURCH HILL — Church Hill Theatre is de­lighted to open its 2017 sea­son with the play “Jake’s Women” by Neil Si­mon.

The CHT pro­duc­tion of “Jake’s Women” will run from Jan. 20 through Feb. 5, with per­for­mances at 8 p.m. on Fri­days and Satur­days and 2 p.m. on Sun­days.

CHT is of­fer­ing spe­cial two for the price of one tick­ets on open­ing night, Fri­day, Jan. 20, for those who re­serve by phone, and dis­counted rates for groups of 10 or more. Call the box of­fice at 410-556-6003 or visit the web­site www.church­hillthe­atre.org for de­tails and reser va­tions.

Si­mon has been writ­ing play for more than fifty years. Di­rec­tor She­lagh Grasso thinks Jake’s Women, writ­ten af­ter the breakup of Si­mon’s third mar­riage, of­fers a “peek into the mind of Neil Si­mon.”

Whether or not it is truly au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal, Jake’s Women is a clas­sic Si­mon com­edy, com­bin­ing hi­lar­i­ous mo­ments and vivid char­ac­ters with real in­sight about mod­ern peo­ple and their prob­lems. Alan Alda earned a Tony nom­i­na­tion for Best Ac­tor for his por­trayal of Jake in the orig­i­nal Broad­way pro­duc­tion.

Jake, a writer with both men­tal health and re­la­tion­ship is­sues, is try­ing to save his mar­riage. In the course of the play, he con­sults with both the au­di­ence and “ghost” women from his past, in­clud­ing his mother, a much-loved de­ceased wife and his daugh­ter.

When real and imag­i­nary women col­lide, even Jake’s psy­chi­a­trist is con­fused. In typ­i­cal Si­mon fash­ion, view­ers are treated to a highly sat­is­fac­tory, if not quite ex­pected, con­clu­sion.

Jake is played by Greg Mi­na­han, an ex­pe­ri­enced Broad­way per­former mak­ing his Church Hill Theatre de­but. Mi­na­han most re­cently played Mac­beth for the Shore Shake­speare Com­pany.

Christine Kin­lock plays Mag­gie, Jake’s cur­rent and very es­tranged wife. She stud­ied theater at Welles­ley Col­lege and is fa­mil­iar to CHT au­di­ences through plays rang­ing from “Rab­bit Hole” to “Noises Off.”

De­bra Eber­sole plays Karen, Jake’s sis­ter. Another CHT reg­u­lar, Eber­sole last ap­peared as Golde in “Fid­dler on the Roof.”

Jake’s daugh­ter, Molly, is played by two ac­tors: Ri­ley Suther­land as a 12-year-old and Nina Sharp as a young adult. Suther­land has acted in CHT’s sum­mer youth per­for­mances since 2011; Sharp is CHT’s ex­ec­u­tive man­ager.

Jane Cop­ple takes the role of Edith, Jake’s frus­trated psy­chi­a­trist. Cop­ple is also a CHT vet­eran, with nu­mer­ous credits in both mu­si­cals and dra­mas.

Ken­dall Davis, a re­cent Wash­ing­ton Col­lege grad­u­ate makes her CHT de­but as Julie, Jake’s wife who died too young.

Jake’s cur­rent love in­ter­est, Sheila, is played by Becca Van Aken, another ac­tor with ex­ten­sive CHT credits in both dra­mas and mu­si­cals.

She­lagh Grasso, the di­rec­tor, was a long-time head of the drama pro­gram at Queen Anne’s County High School, and de­vel­oped its sub­stan­tial theatre pro­gram. A board mem­ber of CHT, she has di­rected both mu­si­cals and dra­mas in­clud­ing CHT’s hit pro­duc­tion of “Noises Off!” and Shore Shake­speare’s “Mac­beth.”

Sally Borghardt is the pro­ducer and Michelle Christo­pher is the stage man­ager. Both have worked with Grasso on other pro­duc­tions, in­clud­ing “Blood Broth­ers” and “Noises Off!”

Car­men Grasso is re­spon­si­ble for the set de­sign and con­struc­tion, Barbi Bedell de­signed the cos­tumes, Pa­trick Fee is the sound de­signer and Doug Kauf­mann is the light de­signer. Matt Folker and “Lit­tle” Speedy Christo­pher as­sist back stage and both Jim John­son and Tom Rhodes helped build the set.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit church­hillthe­atre.org.

Jake (Greg Mi­na­han, cen­ter) takes com­fort in imag­in­ing his daugh­ter Molly at age 11 (left, Ri­ley Suther­land) and age 21 (right, Nina Sharp) to help him get through a bumpy patch.

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