The Weston Public Library’s most anticipated and popular event of the year, Play with Your Food, went off with laughter and applause on Tuesday, July 17.
For the fifth year in a row, professional actors performed scenes from three one-act plays for a sold-out audience at the library. Box lunches were provided by Peter’s Market before the performances, allowing the event to live up to its clever title.
The plays followed comedic but touching relationships brought to life by the actors.
The first scene, from the play Almost Maine, featured Cynthia Hannah and Jim Shilling, local active actors with close ties to the piece. Ms. Hannah has written and performed an original play, The Pope, at the Theatre Artists Workshop in Norwalk, and performed consistently at the Westport Country Playhouse. She recently performed in Music Theatre of Connecticut’s production of Almost Maine.
Mr. Shilling also performed in Almost Maine and is the co-founder of Music Theatre of Connecticut where he has directed several shows.
The play takes place in the fictional, unofficial town of Almost, Maine. A newcomer to Maine, Ms. Hannah’s character, Glory, stumbles into a resident’s yard expecting whoever owns the property to exert the stereotyped Maine hospitality she has read about in tourist guides. After Mr. Shilling’s character, East, discovers his unexpected visitor, he is first upset and indignant but soon takes a strong liking to her, which is expressed in several blunt utterances of “I love you” and aggressive kisses. Glory is taken aback by his brashness as she has come to Maine to mourn the death of her husband who she believes has gone on to “carrying a torch” in the Northern Lights. Throughout the piece, the characters grow closer through hilarious and human interaction and develop a romantic bond, exuding the chemistry of the two actors.
In the second play, I Didn’t Know You Can Cook, by Rich Orloff, two brothers come together and learn to reconnect and get along for the first time since childhood. It featured Damian Long, who has toured the country with the National Shakespeare Company, and is Weston High School Company’s theatrical director. He played Jerome, a handicapped homosexual who comes out to his older brother years after they have left home. Sean Hannon, a professional 3D character animator and actor, played the older brother Mark, who is reluctant to accept his younger brother for whom he is and his challenges.
After the show, several audience members remarked on the accurate and poignant portrayal of the out-of-touch siblings played by Mr. Long and Mr. Hannon. They also liked the reality and humor involved with learning to accept loved ones for who they are.
The last piece, J-E-T-S, generated the greatest reaction with raucous laughter from the crowd, due in no small part to the energy of actors Kim Squires and Allan Zeller. Married to each other in real life, Ms. Squires has appeared in several Long Wharf productions and has spent time working in TV, film, radio and voice-overs. Mr. Zeller is a multifaceted performer in the world of media and may be seen in Oh Promise Me!,” a short film that was shown at the Big Apple Film Festival in New York.
J-E-T-S follows a husband and wife and is a satire on married life. Ms. Squires played Tina, who is thoroughly invested in football and her favorite team, the New York Jets. Mr. Zeller, as her husband Al, initially introduced Tina to the game and got her hooked on football. Al soon learns to regret this decision as Tina becomes increasingly emotional and abrasive during Jets games — responding to each play with shrill shrieking at the television including the J-E-T-S chant. Ms. Squires portrayed Tina with much zeal and enthusiasm, while Mr. Zeller was equally funny as the passively annoyed husband who finally snaps.
This was Play with Your Food’s only summer performance, although it has performance seasons during the year throughout Fairfield County. Weston Library Director Karen Tatarka said, “It’s a great way to raise awareness of what the Friends of the Library can do, and opens up an affordable way to get many people involved with an event at the library.”
Amy Schwab, a member of the Friends of the Weston Library, called the event a success. “It was a wonderful blend of good food and wonderful performances that everyone could relate to. We are so pleased that the only summer performance of Play with Your Food was at the Weston Public Library,” she said.