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An emotional ‘Dinner Party’

Charles Town’s Old Opera House serves up Neil Simon

The creative minds putting on Neil Simon’s “The Dinner Party” at the Old Opera House this week say the offbeat comedy-turned-drama will have audience members reflecting on their own relationships.

[cleeng_content id=”652803450″ description=”Read it now!” price=”0.49″ t=”article”]The story begins with three divorced men invited to a dinner party. “It starts out very funny and farcical,” explains director Glenn Frail, “Then it turns in to this exploration of relationships.”

Neil Simon’s “The Dinner Party” is being performed this weekend and next at the Old Opera House in Charles Town. The play, a dramatic comedy that details the shifting relationships of three couples, stars (from left) Steven Brewer, Jennifer George, Rick Harner and Robert Allen. BELOW Christine Brewer plays Gabrielle Buonocelli, the mysterious and sultry hostess of the party who seeks to help her guests repair their damaged relationships.

Neil Simon’s “The Dinner Party” is being performed this weekend and next at the Old Opera House in Charles Town. The play, a dramatic comedy that details the shifting relationships of three couples, stars (from left) Steven Brewer, Jennifer George, Rick Harner and Robert Allen.

The men realize they share in common a divorce attorney and initially assume the gathering has been arranged by him to perhaps meet new women.

“It’s not a true farce,” Frail said, “but it has farcical elements. In typical Neil Simon style, there are a lot of one-liners and only a writer like Simon could bring out the comedy in a situation like this.”

Rick Harner, who plays the role of Albert Donay, said, “It’s up and down. It’s serious, it’s funny, it’s back and forth. It’s not entirely a comedy, but it’s not entirely a drama. It kind of reminds me of the old Carol Burnett ‘Eunice’ shows- it’s tragic, but it’s funny.”

“It’s almost two plays in one,” said Robert Allen, who plays Claude Pichon. “It breaks formula. It’s something new.”

Allen said he believes anyone seeing this play will be able to relate not only to the situations the characters are in, but to the characters themselves.

“We’ve all had these ups and down,” he said. “I think it’s designed to make you ask yourself honestly – what’s the nicest and worst thing your spouse ever did for you?’”

BELOW Christine Brewer plays Gabrielle Buonocelli, the mysterious and sultry hostess of the party who seeks to help her guests repair their damaged relationships.

Christine Brewer plays Gabrielle Buonocelli, the mysterious and sultry hostess of the party who seeks to help her guests repair their damaged relationships.

“I think it’s going to resonate with everyone,” said Jennifer George, who plays Mariette Levieux. “Its about three couples who got divorced for three very different reasons. It’s a very thought-provoking, intelligent play. You will leave examining your own relationship.”

Steven Brewer, artistic director of the Old Opera House, plays the role of Andre Bouville. He said “The Dinner Party” is all about relationships and uses divorce as the vehicle to do so.

“It’s so multifaceted,” said Brewer. “It asks the questions, ‘What keeps us together? What pulls us apart?’”

Brewer admits that while “The Dinner Party” doesn’t come to mind as quickly as some of Simon’s other work such as “The Odd Couple” or “Barefoot in the Park,” he believes that audiences will enjoy the journey.

“You get to learn the characters … it has the farcical elements, then it brings the drama in and catches you by surprise,” he said.

Shannon Spears plays the twice-married, once divorced Yvonne Fouchet.

Shannon Spears plays the twice-married, once divorced Yvonne Fouchet.

The Old Opera House has given this production a PG-13 rating for mild language. Tickets may be purchased at the box office one hour prior to each show or over the telephone by calling the box office at 304-725-4420.

 

Want to go?
What: “The Dinner Party”
When: 8 p.m. Friday and
Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday
and again May 2, 3 and 4
Where: Old Opera House at 204 N. George St. in Charles Town
How much: Tickets start at $10 for students
To know more: Go online
to oldoperahouse.org[/cleeng_content]

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