A NICE FAMILY GATHERING
Written by Phil Olson
Directed by Doug Engalla
We are lucky to have A NICE FAMILY GATHERING as the newest production in the new theatre space, Upstairs at the Group Rep, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood. A NICE FAMILY GATHERING premiered at the Group Rep in 2000, and we welcome the return of this enjoyable, funny and touching play about a typical “middle America” family from Minnesota.
top Robert McCollum L R Cynthia Bryant Rudolph McCollum photo by Doug Engalla
A family gathers for their first Thanksgiving after their Dad has died. Dad (Robert McCollum) comes back as a ghost to tell his wife he loves her, something he neglected to do during their 35-year marriage. And, he wants his son Carl (Rudolph McCollum) to be the one to tell his Mom (Cynthia Bryant). The only one that can see Dad is Carl, and Carl is not too happy to be the one to grant his Dad’s wish. He only remembers his Dad as a man that worked too much, and never showed his emotions to this family.
Robert McCollum Ceirra Burton Rudolph McCollum Veronica Roy Glen Philip Cynthia Bryant photo by Doug Engalla
You see, Carl has a successful older brother, Michael (Glen Philip), who is a Doctor, and a younger sister Stacy who has no self-confidence and feels intimidated at just about everything, or so it appears. Michael’s wife, Jill (Veronica Roy) is consumed and distraught that she has been unable to conceive a baby. A lot transpires during the play that brings into focus how disconnected this family had become, and that all is not as it seems. But bringing this all together is the warm and loving, but forgetful and absentminded Mom. She loves her family, and truly loved her husband. To her, he was great, hard working, respectful and a man that loved his family.
The trouble begins when Mom invites a date, Jerry (Rich Fullman), to dinner, and the whole family rallies to get rid of this man that they feel is going to take advantage of their mother. It’s quirky, fun and reminds you of the “every family”. And, we fall in love with them.
This ensemble cast is wonderful and talented. With great timing, characterization and just that right amount of “touching” make us feel a part of this crazy, but typical family. They are truly an ensemble cast.
Written by Phil Olson, who brings to life the “every family” with laugh out loud humor and “tear in the eye” poignant and tender moments. Phil has written the hysterical “Don’t Hug Me” series of plays, which are some of my favorites, and A NICE FAMILY GATHERING is now added to the list. Doug Engalla brings his superb directing talents to this delightful production, and is a longtime collaborator with Playwright Phil Olson.
It seems we all have dysfunctional families. They may be strange, normal, difficult, loving, whatever they may be. We love them, no matter how much we may complain. And, aren’t we lucky!
Cast: Cynthia Bryant, Ceirra Burton, Rich Fullman, Robert McCollum, Rudolph McCollum, Glen Philip, Veronica Roy and Steven West.
Director: Doug Engalla
Producer for the Group Rep: Laura Coker
Assistant to the Director: Natalia Santamaria
Set & Costume Design: Diana Martin
Set Construction: Chris Winfield & Larry White
Lighting Design: Robert McCollum & J. Kent Inasy
Sound Design: Steve Shaw
Stage Manager: Elijah Tomlinson
Public Relations: Nora Feldman
Graphic Design: Doug Haverty / Art & Soul Design
Program: Larry Eisenberg
Upstairs at the Group Rep
The Lonny Chapman Theatre
10900 Burbank Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Buy Tickets: www.thegrouprep.com or 818-763-5990
Runs: April 23 – May 29, 2016
Saturday Matinees at 2:00 pm; Sunday Evenings at 7:00 pm
Q & A Talkbacks after Sunday shows, May 1 and May 15
General Admission: $17 - $20
Appropriate for ages 10+
Running Time: Approximately 115 minutes, plus one 10-minute intermission