Thanksgiving might be well over but everyone will be able to relate to the newest production of the hilarious and heartfelt play A Nice Family Gathering opening Nov. 9.
The show marks a milestone for the co-op theatre company and one of the largest casts they’ve had on stage yet.
Written by Phil Olson, the play is set in the Lundeen home. The story unfolds when the family gets together to celebrate Thanksgiving for the first time since Dad, played by Jamie Eberle, passed away.
“It’s totally appropriate for the season. We missed Canadian Thanksgiving but Christmas is coming up. Everyone has that uncle that wants to argue politics and an aunt that just drinks a little too much scotch. There’s always that tension of being around people you only see two or three days a year,” said Ed Schneider, co-director of the production.
The mood of the play lifts quickly from sorrow to humour when Dad resurfaces as a ghost on Thanksgiving with a mission to tell his wife he loved her.
“Apparently 45 years wasn’t enough time to tell her,” Schneider said with a chuckle.
Dad first visits angst-filled middle child Carl played by Andrew Knudsen. Some audience members will know Knudsen from his day job as the drama teacher at Penticton High School or a similar role when he played a son in the play Mending Fences in 2016. Dad asks Carl to help him get a message to his grief stricken widow played by Eleanor Walker.
“Carl kind of responds with, ‘hey, wait a minute you never said I love you to me,’”Schneider said. “So there’s a funny back and forth exchange between them.”
Also visiting for the holiday is older and very successful brother Michael — a doctor, played Rob McCaffery. He brings along with him his emotional and status-focussed wife Jill played by Anita Reimer. Rounding out the family is wallflower little sister Stacy played by Dianna Zumpano-Gin.
“She garners all the laughs and steals the show by just sitting there and being the wallflower.”
Add into the mix that Mom, who’s getting on in years, is starting to have memory issues.
The only non-family member is Jerry, played by James Wood, who’s invited by the mom and could potentially become a love interest for the aging woman.
“Dad’s ghost does not think it’s a great idea at all. Pretty much it all goes down from there,” he said. “There’s just enough conflict between all the characters that it makes it hilarious to watch.”
Schneider said tickets are moving “briskly” for the show and anyone interested should snap up their tickets quickly.
Two open galas are scheduled. The first takes place opening night on Nov. 9 with the traditional wine from Play Estate Winery and cheese reception following the performance. On Fri., Nov. 10 the gala includes craft brews from the Cannery Brewing Company and door prizes from Minuteman Press. Tickets are $25 for adults and $22 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at The Nest and Nectar or by calling 250-493-7275.
Showtimes are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.