Sandbox Players in Rehearsal for Production
A.R. Gurney’s “The Dining Room” is sometimes played with six actors portraying all the roles in the 18 scenes that span two acts. It is a tour de force for the actors.
However, the Sandbox Players Community Theater has opted to make it a tour de force for Sandhills talent. Sixteen actors — from newcomers to seasoned veterans (including two husband and wife combos) of the Sandhills stages — will bring their own unique perspective to the emotionally charged and equally humorous Gurney story about the most enigmatic of rooms: “The Dining Room.”
Gurney’s room is one with a view on the evolving value and influence of the dining room on family and culture. Memories of what transpired within those walls and around that table are part Norman Rockwell, part Andy Warhol, part Edward Hopper, but always engaging and entertaining.
“The Sandbox Players have assembled a cast of talent and breadth equal to the challenge,” says Rod Harter, director.
The cast includes two husband and wife combos, both of whom are familiar to area audiences. Alice and Vertrees Hollingsworth, and Sarah Edwards and Randy Rime, all have lent their talents to numerous productions in local theaters (SLT and Moore OnStage), not to mention regional audiences, too.
The Hollingsworths bring humor and compassion to scenes that touch on the changing perceptions of an aging culture. The Rimeses each find themselves confronted with issues of generational identity.
Don Bridge, Loretta Aldridge, Kimberly Corrigan and Sara Schrock are also familiar and respected talents. Bridge brings his special talent and experience to bear on scenes of sibling rivalry and a sweet, if not surprising, awakening love. Loretta Aldridge must defend the values of her culture and their dining habits, while Kimberly Corrigan fights to navigate a modern sexuality.
Sara Schrock wrestles with the loneliness of suburban life and an inconvenient son. In another scene she seeks to maintain parental control over an obviously rebellious daughter, Jess Vest. Life does not always rise to the level dignity and tradition portrayed by the dining room!
Brittney Davis, Jess Vest, Juliette Blanks, Rickie Jacobs, Peter Pagani and Zachary Landolt are younger performers well known to area audiences through their associations with STC and Moore OnStage. Vest and Davis offer an engaging and humorous younger perspective on what goes on in the dining room. Rickie Jacobs straddles a range of years: a young boy, an inconvenient son and a frustrated husband trying to hang on during a feminine revolution. Zach Landolt conducts cultural research on his own crumbling social institutions (unsuccessfully), and navigates changing cultural values behind the mask of civility when he breaks the rules.
Peter Pagani is that precocious young man who knows everything and nothing, while Juliette Blanks brings an engaging perspective of humor on life in the dining room, where young people see all too readily through the artifice.
Mary Alice Dale and Jessica Hughes are newcomers to the area with extensive community theater or film experience. Mary Alice Dale is the young mother humorously battling expectations for a mother and her own desire to have a career. Jessica Hughes runs headlong into her sibling rivalries while trying to take care of mother. Later, she is a mother running headlong into obstacles to dinner, while the pretense of her society splits her family. The scenes are many, varied, touching, funny, warm, troubling, but always entertaining and true.
Rod Harter directs the production, with scenic design by Doug Fry. Another newcomer, Leslie Crowe, is developing the extensive properties required for the show, which spans decades. Loretta Aldridge is head of box office; Judy Hewett is the graphic designer.
“The Dining Room” opens April 8 for an eight-performance run at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines. Evening performances begin at 7:15 p.m. April 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, and 17. Two matinees are scheduled on April 11 and 18, at 2 p.m. Tickets are general admission — $15 for adults and $12 for students — and can be reserved by calling (910) 295-5828.
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