Old Names, Mod­ern Hu­mor Shine In Sierra Rep Pro­duc­tion

Riverbank News - - LIVING -

The 2013 Tony Award win­ner for Best Play, Vanya and So­nia and Masha and Spike comes to Sierra Reper­tory The­atre’s East Sonora The­atre May 20 through June 12. SRT fa­vorite Becky Saun­ders (Church Base­ment Ladies, Honky Tonk An­gels) di­rects the show, with SRT com­pany ac­tor Ty Smith as Vanya.

Although its char­ac­ters sport (mostly) 17th cen­tury names, Vanya and So­nia takes a mod­ern and hi­lar­i­ous bit at life, re­spon­si­bil­ity and fam­ily. Cre­ator Christo­pher Du­rang wrote the com­edy as a mi­nor homage to the works of his­toric play­wright An­ton Chekhov, but does not re­quire fa­mil­iar­ity with the show’s in­spi­ra­tion.

Vanya and So­nia are mid­dle- aged- and- fad­ing brother and sis­ter, stuck liv­ing at the fam­ily es­tate of their de­ceased par­ents — who named them af­ter fa­mous, but drama-in­flicted char­ac­ters. Among their re­flec­tions on the missed op­por­tu­ni­ties of life, the two are vis­ited by suc­cess­ful movie-star sis­ter Masha (yep, still Chekhov), who re­turns to dis­cuss the fu­ture of the es­tate. She also can’t help but bring along her youth­ful boy toy Spike, who more than stirs up the dusty home with his pref­er­ence for tak­ing his clothes off.

“Brother and sis­ter are liv­ing a life of long­ing and re­grets and in comes their other sis­ter, who’s a movie star, adored by mil­lions and loved by few,” said Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Scott Vi­ets, em­pha­siz­ing the re­al­is­tic char­ac­ters that come across in the play, but who al­most seem to dis­cuss their flaws with the audi- ence.

The play uses hu­mor to ex­plore char­ac­ter, cir­cum­stances and the dis­ap­point­ment that comes with ag­ing.

“Du­rang’s mak­ing a com­men­tary on to­day’s fast-paced, so­cial me­di­adriven world by hold­ing a mag­ni­fy­ing glass up to it,” Vi­ets said. “It’s also his pin­ing for a sim­pler time, like so many do. But it’s not a lec­ture. It’s funny, it’s witty, and yet it’s got warmth to it.”

Those qual­i­ties are likely what earned the play nine awards and 10 ad­di­tional award nom­i­na­tions its open­ing year. It won the Tony Award for Best Play.

“We al­ways try to find a play that’s fresh and con­tem­po­rary to in­tro­duce to our au­di­ence, even if the ti­tle is un­known to many,” Vi­ets said. “It’s part of our mis­sion state­ment to bring some­thing to ev­ery­one.”

Vi­ets also wanted to as­sure ev­ery­one not to be in­tim­i­dated or turned off by the his­toric lit­er­a­ture ref­er­ences, as they are ab­so­lutely not nec­es­sary to fol­low the play. The au­thor de­scribes his homage as Chekhov “in a blender” and any fa­mil­iar­ity with the work will just be ic­ing on the cake.

Vanya and So­nia and Masha and Spike opens Fri­day, May 20 at the East Sonora The­atre and runs through Sun­day, June 12. Per­for­mances are Wed­nes­days, Satur­days and Sun­days at 2 p.m.; Fri­days and Satur­days at 7 p.m.; some Thurs­days at 2 p.m.; and some Thurs­days at 7 p.m. The au­di­ence is in­vited to stay af­ter the show for a spe­cial “talk back” per­for­mance with ac­tors on Thurs­day, May 26. Tick­ets range from $32 to $37, with se­nior, stu­dent and child dis­counts avail­able. All open­ing week­end evening tick­ets are just $25. The show is rated R for ma­ture themes and lan­guage. Deb­o­rah H. Mal­colm (It’s a Won­der­ful Life, Mu­sic Man) re­turns as set de­signer and Jose M. Rivera (Ok­la­homa!, Buddy Holly) re­turns as cos­tume de­signer.


The com­edy ‘Vanya and So­nia and Masha and Spike’ opens Fri­day, May 20 at Sierra Reper­tory The­atre’s East Sonora stage.

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