With its latest production, Showtimers Community Theatre in Roanoke County continues to foray into territory that the 63-year- old company hasn't typically explored.
"Twilight of the Golds," which opens Wednesday, adds a slightly science fictional twist to a drama about an upper middle class Jewish family in New York.
Parents Walter and Phyllis are estranged from their son David, who is gay. Daughter Suzanne, married to a geneticist, learns she's pregnant. The play postulates that through genetic testing she undergoes to make sure her baby will be born healthy she discovers her son will be homosexual.
Suzanne considers having an abortion, which angers her brother once he learns what she's contemplating.
The show is co-produced by actor Patrick Kennerly, a veteran of many Showtimers plays, and his wife Pat. Showtimers board president David Colatosti is directing. The company scheduled the play to coincide with the 2013 Pride in the Park event Sept. 21 at Roanoke's River's Edge. "We plan to have a booth there and promote not only the show but also the theatre," Colatosti wrote in an email.
Despite the hot-button issues the play explores, Colatosti asserted that it's not as controversial as it sounds.
"I honestly do not think this show is that edgy. If you read the play or watch the production it is pretty mild." In 1996 the play was adapted into a PG-13 rated film starring Brendan Fraser, Jennifer Beals, Garry Marshall and Faye Dunaway.
Colatosti has wanted to direct "Twilight of the Golds" since the days when he had his own theater company, Hops and Barley Productions in Blacksburg, but he wasn't able to find a venue for it then. He has submitted it several times to the Showtimers play reading committee for approval. "Fortunately for me it finally came up."
He doesn't expect the play to cause much audience controversy. He noted that the theater put on a well-received production of "The Heidi Chronicles" by Wendy Wasserstein in 2010, and he contends Wasserstein's play is edgier. "Heidi Chronicles" follows a young woman's coming of age, discovery of feminism and experiences with the evolving roles of women from the 1960s through the 1980s.
What's important, he wrote, is that "Twilight of the Golds" will "raise some interesting questions and perhaps get the audience to think."
"Twilight of the Golds" author Jonathan Tolins wrote scripts for the HBO series "Queer as Folk" and also scripted "Martian Child," a 2007 sci-fi tinted comedy starring John Cusack. The title of his 1993 play is a pun on "Twilight of the Gods," the apocalyptic final opera in German composer Richard Wagner's "Ring of the Nibelung" four-opera cycle - in the play, son David works for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Co-producer Kennerly has said he's interested in Showtimers presenting more thought-provoking fare. He directed the company's February production of "A Lesson Before Dying," based on Ernest J. Gaines' tragic novel of racism and injustice. It was the first time the theater has put on a play to observe Black History Month.
Colatosti wrote that he will continue to encourage more "synergistic scheduling" on the part of Showtimers, "since it helps the overall marketing of the theatre ... in order to broaden our patron base."
Performances of "Twilight of the Golds" take place 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sept. 22, 8 p.m. Sept. 25-28 and 2 p.m. Sept. 29 at 2067 McVitty Road in Roanoke County. Tickets are $12; ages 18 and under, $5. For more information, call 774-2660 or visit Showtimers.org.
Roanoke artists shows
Virginia Tech's Perspective Gallery on the second floor of Squires Student Center in Blacksburg has opened "Engram" by Hollins University assistant art professor Jennifer Anderson. On display until Sept. 28, "Engram" comprises reproductions of paintings that have been altered by having intricate lace patterns cut into them.
The show is free. The gallery's hours are noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 231-6040 or visit www.studentcenters.vt.edu/ perspectivegallery/.
Liminal: Alternative Artspace gallery in Community High School at 302 Campbell Ave. S.E. is hosting "Paintings and Drawings," an exhibition by Roanoke artist Gerry Bannan. In an artist's statement, Bannan writes that his dense, intricate works illustrate a principle of "visual generosity," a deliberate contrast to trends in contemporary art, "where visual austerity has long been dominant."
The free show is on display through Sept. 27. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 345-1688 or visit the gallery's Facebook page.
Classical pianist Deanne Vance will perform at 2 p.m. Sept. 28 in the recital hall at The Glebe in Daleville.
Vance is a member of the piano ensemble group Carole Edwards and Friends, frequent performers at the retirement community. The program will include selections by Bach, Beethoven and Chopin.
The show is free, but reservations are required. Donations accepted for the Botetourt Resource Center. To make reservations or for more information, call Edwards at 591-2465 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Arts blog
Catawba reader Lee West has shared photographs he took of Floyd artist Jerry Myers' Villa Sorrento murals before they were removed from their original home in Roanoke. Visit blogs.roanoke.com/arts to check them out.
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