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Go out to eat with ‘Dinner With Friends’ production

FOUR FOR DINNER ­— The Springville Players will present “Dinner With Friends,” starting April 11. Pictured, from left: Dan Greer as Tom, Chris Best as Gabe, Georgina Canwell as Karen and Pamela Morley as Beth. Photo submitted by Seth Wochensky.
SPRINGVILLE — The Springville Players are inviting local arts enthusiasts to have a bite to eat and watch “Dinner With Friends,” with a dinner and theater package that includes this Pulitzer prize-winning show.

The show’s director, Patricia Maxwell, said she had wanted to get the Donald Margulies production to the Springville Center for the Arts for “a long time.

“It’s a great marketing play to be able to do that,” Maxwell said. “To invite people to go out and make an evening of it at local dining establishments, support the community and see the show. It’s a great way to work together with local businesses.”

On April 13, Papa Jake’s Saloon will offer a 5:30 p.m. fixed price dinner, for theater patrons. On the menu is a choice of soup or salad to start, followed by the diner’s choice of dijon and panko-crusted salmon or shrimp and crab-stuffed chicken breast, each served with salt potatoes and a vegetable. For dessert, the saloon will feature a lemon tarte with amaretto cream.

On April 20, the Fireside Inn will offer diners a prix fixe menu, including a choice of soup or salad, followed by either baked lamb shanks or cod casino with a vegetable and potato, accompanied by a glass of Shiraz or other house wine, coffee or tea, a soft drink and lemon almond torte, for dessert. That seating will also be at 5:30 p.m.

Dinner reservations are required and must be made no later than April 14.

Springville Center for the Arts Executive Director Seth Wochensky called this play “a challenging drama, with a bit of an edge.”

The production follows two middle-aged couples, Gabe and Karen and Tom and Beth. While having dinner at Gabe and Karen’s home one night, Beth reveals that her husband has been unfaithful. As Beth and Tom’s marriage unravels, Gabe and Karen reexamine their friendships and their own marriage.

The show stars Dan Greer as Tom, Chris Best as Gabe, Georgina Canwell as Karen and Pamela Morley as Beth.

“It examines the impact divorce has, on relationships,” Maxwell explained. “Not just the couple whose marriage is ending, but the friendships of those involved, couple to couple, individual to individual, boy – boy and girl – girl. It also has an impact on the couple that’s staying together and they have to ask, ‘What chance do we have?’”

Although he cited a fight scene as one of the exciting draws of the show, Wochensky said he advised leaving the kids at home, for this one.

“The content is a little more difficult. It’s about a difficult situation and looks at the different situations there can be, with love and relationships, that sort of thing. It does include adult language and adult themes. Frankly, I think kids would be bored,” he added, with a laugh.

Maxwell said that the small cast size allowed her to treat the show with a “more concentrated, critical focus” than a larger group may have.

“Developing these characters very deeply is important, because it’s just the four of them and the audience won’t be distracted, by other action,” she said.

The director said that she asked the actors to draw from their own life experiences with divorce and relationships, to enrich their characters, onstage.

“Everyone knows someone with these relationship dynamics. I don’t think anyone is immune, in this day and age. I do the same thing, with directing the show. It’s easy to draw from my own life and say, ‘How would I react in this situation?’ or ‘What is the emotion behind this moment, behind this line?’”

Maxwell, who started out as an actor at the SCA, said that directing is “a little twist” from being onstage, but that she loves teaching and helping the actors develop the characters into fuller, richer versions of what Margulies put on the page.

“It’s a contemporary play. It’s raw and full of real emotion that you can see, in any walk of life. It’s not abstract, at all,” she said.

“At the SCA, we really appeal to a wide range of audiences. I’d say [we appeal to] all audiences.”

The run will kick off with “Pay what you can with a can,” a SCA tradition. That evening, theatergoers can pay any price, as long as they bring a canned good or nonperishable food item to donate to the food pantry, along with them.

For all other shows, student, senior citizen and adult rates are available. With all ticket purchases, buyers can receive 10 percent off at East Main Cafe and Pizzeria or Julie’s Pizzeria.

The four actors will take the stage at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 11; Friday, April 12; Saturday, April 13 and Saturday, April 20 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 21 at 2 p.m.

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