Clague Playhouse’s ‘Same Time, Next Year’ is gentle on the eyes and ears
In 1975 Bernard Slade put his play “Same Time, Next Year” on stage to rave reviews. Three years later the movie version starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn was released. The movie was directed by Robert Mulligan with screenplay by Bernard Slade. The reviews of the movie version were mixed but over the decades the film has developed a faithful and loving following.
While considered more community rather than professional theater, Clague Playhouse is celebrating its 94th season by putting on superb show after superb show in their 85 seat theater. This intrepid group of mostly volunteers really is “the little theater that can.” Their current production of “Same Time, Next Year” is undeniable proof of that.
It is 1951 at an inn on the California coast. Housewife Doris (Tiffany Trapnell) is at a religious retreat and has met CPA George (Daniel Telford) who is doing the books for a local long time client. George sees Doris while having dinner and since the dining room does not serve alcohol George instead sends over a steak to Doris in order to meet her.
In spite of the fact that both are happily married with six children between them they have an overnight sexual tryst of the earth moving variety. Their awkward morning encounter soon gives way to more passion as they decide to meet the following year at the same time having realized that they are soul mates of some type.
The various episodes jump forward at five year intervals with the United States going through periods of upheaval and advancement. This has a telling effect on Doris and George with the most notable change in 1966 when conservative right wing George meets up with UC Berkeley hippy left wing political activist student Doris at the height of the Vietnam war protests. Each segment is a slice of American life as Doris and George mirror the change over from conservative 50s through the wild 60s into the rock and roll mid 70s.
In order for this play to be successful it must have tremendous chemistry between the two actors. The stage set needs to be cozy without being crowded. The lighting bright and airy. Clague Playhouse manages to succeed on all levels. Tiffany Trapnell and Daniel Telford are comfortable in their rolls to the point of being intimate. What starts off as an awkward waking realization of “What have we done?” to a heartfelt and lovely communication that makes them realize how well suited they are for each other. Thus the plan to meet every year at the same time and same place is hatched.
Between the scenes a well practiced pair of stage hands arrive to smoothly prepare the set for the next segment. As period appropriate music and news bulletins are played the transition between scenes is quick and professional. The show is directed by Ron Newell whose gentle guiding hand is felt throughout the two hour with intermission show. Ron also is in charge of the delightful set design. Sydney DeMatteis-Geib and Dred Geib handle the costuming that spans 25 years of the most fashionably turbulent times in our nation’s history. Jeff Lockshine does a superb job on the lighting design giving a nice warm feel to the cozy room. Lisa L. Wiley’ sound design fits the small box theater space perfectly being just right for the venue.
Some plays were born to be placed in small intimate theaters and “Same Time, Next Year” is a perfect fit for Clague Playhouse. It is a delightful story with naughty undertones that touches your heart while giving you a history lesson of the 50s through 70s. Come feel the love!
“Same Time, Next Year” will be on stage at the Clague Playhouse, 1371 Clague Road, Westlake, Ohio through May 29, 2022. For more information and tickets go to http://www.clagueplayhouse.org or call (440) 331-0403.