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'Squabbles' reveals love, pain underneath

| Friday, July 19, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
Mountain Playhouse
Actors John Little as Abe Dreyfus and Celeste Mancinelli as Mildred Sloan are dueling in-laws living in the same home with their children – a married couple. They star in the show 'Squabbles,' playing July 23 – Aug. 4 at Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown.

It's a family dilemma worthy of Dear Abby: A young couple with a three-bedroom home is preparing for the arrival of their first child when the wife's father and the husband's mother both move in and begin to bicker over who should stay. Someone has to go, and it won't be the baby!

The tale of intergenerational living forms the plot of “Squabbles,” a play opening July 23 at Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown.

The comedy — and the squabbles — take place in the home of happily married couple Jerry and Alice Sloan. Alice's argumentative father, Abe Dreyfus, is living with the Sloans when the couple finds out they are expecting a baby. To further complicate matters, Jerry's mother, Mildred, is forced to move in because her house burned down. When Abe and Mildred begin to bicker, the Sloans' domestic bliss is turned on its head with comic results.

“What the play is really about is the Sandwich Generation,” says Teresa Marafino, Mountain Playhouse executive producer. She found that the theme appeals to the theater's audiences after last year's successful run of ‘Alone Together,' a play about the reverse situation of adult children moving in with their parents.

“It's a situation many people can relate to. “(The play) has a lot of appeal for older as well as younger theatergoers, particularly those who are having to deal with in-laws,” director Chan Harris say.

John Little plays Abe Dreyfus, a former New York cab driver who has lost his wife after 40 years of marriage. Abe prefers to live with his daughter rather than go into a retirement home. However, he has taken over the room intended for the baby, and he tries to goad Jerry into arguments.

Abe enjoys arguing for its own sake.

“For Abe, it becomes a game,” Little says. “He considers it a health regimen.”

When Mildred moves in, she and Abe bicker constantly.

“Part of their battles are territorial,” Little says. “Mildred is coming and he has to move out of his room. She's taking his room and taking his TV. It's a big adjustment for everybody.”

Little believes that audiences of all ages will enjoy the play, especially the comedic quarrels between Abe and Mildred. “It's done in a very lighthearted manner,” he says. “It brings you to the edge of disaster and then it has a happy ending.”

Celeste Mancinelli plays Abe's nemesis Mildred Sloan.

“She has a caustic, biting humor,” Mancinelli says. “A very tough exterior is what the world sees, but there's a tenderness and sentimentality underneath.”

Rounding out the cast are Martin Landry as Jerry Sloan, Lisa Riegel as Alice Sloan, Joe Joyce as handyman Hector Lopez and Caroline Shannon as the baby's nanny, Mrs. Fisher.

Cynthia Bombach Helzel is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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