Theatre Factory’s 25th season focuses on all kinds of families
The Theatre Factory’s 25th season will focus on families – not only traditional families, but also families of faith, neighbors, cultures, passions and friendships.
“When picking the shows for our anniversary season, we wanted to incorporate a family feel,” says Jeff Johnston, promotions manager for the Trafford theater company. “We really try to create our own special family here at the theater, and we wanted to build our season around that concept.”
The theater company’s season opener Sept. 12-22, Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical play, “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” celebrates the traditional family.
Coming of age
The first play in Simon’s “Eugene” trilogy, which also includes “Biloxi Blues” and “Broadway Bound,” is about how the family comes together during trying times. It is a coming-of-age story of a Polish-Jewish American boy, nearly 15 years old, during the Great Depression.
James Gaschler of Cheswick portrays Eugene Jerome, the teenager living with his family in New York with World War II just breaking out.
“Eugene relies on his brother Stanley (played by Jared Lewis of Pittsburgh) to show him the ropes and guide him through this tumultuous time in his life,” Gaschler says.
At age 23, Gaschler says one of his biggest challenges with his role is portraying a 15-year-old, but “luckily I’m told my maturity can at times resemble that of a 15-year-old boy, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Lewis says he wanted to perform in “Brighton Beach Memoirs” because “it’s very funny but it contains some very dramatic and real scenes that show the depth and humanity of each character. I think people will absolutely enjoy the comedy in it, as well as feel for these characters as they go through their own individual struggles.”
Family drama and more
“Brighton Beach Memoirs” is a great family drama, according to Director Paul Reynolds of North Huntingdon – but it’s much more than that.
“Simon points out the importance of family, even when we sometimes are pushed to the boiling point and beyond by them,” Reynolds says. “We have to keep our hearts and minds open and be aware of the ways our actions affect the ones we love so dearly.”
In directing the show, he says he wants “to be able to hold a mirror up to the time period to let us see the relevance it still holds today in the lives we are currently living and the situations we are currently experiencing.”
Reynolds’ directing credits include “Anything Goes” (assistant director) at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston, and “Barefoot in the Park” at The Theatre Factory. He also has had acting roles in stage, TV and film productions, including the musical “42nd Street,” the movie “Daddy Day Care” and television shows “The George Lopez Show,” “Norm” and others.
Gaschler has performed in “Nuncrackers” for The Theatre Factory, “Ripcord” for New Kensington Civic Theatre and “The Wedding Singer” for Greensburg Civic Theatre.
Lewis’s credits include “Fuddy Meers” at The Theatre Factory and a tour with Saltworks Theatre Company.
The cast of “Brighton Beach Memoirs” also includes Erin Seaberg of White Oak, Amelia Bender of Jeannette, Kathleen Regan of Pittsburgh, Craig Soich of Murrysville and Marisa Postava of McKees Rocks.
2019-20 season highlights
The Theatre Factory’s 25th anniversary season will feature some newer productions along with old classics, Johnson says, including:
• Oct. 18-27, “The Fantasticks”
• Dec. 6-15, “A Christmas Carol”
• Feb. 28-March 8, “She Kills Monsters”
• April 24-May 3, “Doubt: A Parable”
• July 10-19, “Into the Woods”
“We hope this season helps establish everyone from our artists to our patrons to feel part of the Theatre Factory family,” he says.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.