When Terry Westwood talks about the role he plays in "A Little Family Business," he likens it to 1970s television sitcom character Archie Bunker.
"Ben is a hard-nosed Republican, a shrewd businessman who cares nothing for his employees," Westwood says of the character he portrays in the Apple Hill Playhouse production of the Jay Presson Allen comedy. "He is a womanizer and an angry paranoid know-it-all who believes Communists are still running rampant."
Westwood of Monroeville is thrilled to be playing the leading role opposite Pam Eyler of Irwin as Lillian, his wife. He says he loved the role from the time director Robert Capanna of Murrysville first showed him the script.
"Ben is very loud and angry. Although I am not angry, I love to be loud," he says. "I really have an opportunity to not just deliver the lines, but to reach deep inside and bring them to life with true feelings. I can really grasp the way Ben is feeling and express that with reactions. I love to laugh."
The comedy that starred Angela Lansbury and John McMartin on Broadway focuses on what happens when Ben, who runs an inherited Massachusetts carpet-cleaning factory, has a heart attack and takes time off, leaving his business in the hands of his wife. Lillian is a wife and mother who has to adapt to her new role very quickly.
"She finds herself thrust into a situation she's not expecting and finds strengths she didn't know she had," Eyler says. "Lil has a lot of hidden depth dealing with a rather 'interesting' family and some truths about her life. The show has some wonderful characters and is really quite funny."
For Capanna, directing this production of "A Little Family Business" is a special homecoming.
"It was at Apple Hill Playhouse that I performed my very first lead role, way back in 2001, shortly after graduating from St. Vincent College. Ever since, Apple Hill has always felt like my home theater, even though I've performed and directed elsewhere," he says.
Capanna directed and performed in "The Complete History of America (Abridged)" at New Kensington Civic Theater in 2012. He says most of his creative energy has been focused on directing the spring musicals at Kiski Area High School, which he has done since 2008.
"I really enjoy sharing my passion for theater with the students," he says.
Also performing in "A Little Family Business" are Kelly Capanna of Export, Alex Celum of Kennedy, Brien Dominick of Pittsburgh, Jennifer Judge of Saltsburg, Leyna McCarthy of Greensburg, Andy Nesky of Munhall and Frank Shoup of Delmont.
Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
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