Young-at-heart seniors take another shot at love in ‘Kalamazoo’
The Theatre Factory’s two-character play, “Kalamazoo,” which opens on May 3 at the Trafford theater, is what actor Howard Elson of Squirrel Hill says is a great example of a genre he calls “Last Chance at Romance Comedies.”
It’s a funny look at the complications and challenges that occur when two “70-somethings” take another crack at love following the deaths of their respective spouses, with the help of a “Silver Foxes” dating website.
Elson says the play is the perfect vehicle for “older” actors and a genre that is enjoyable for the Theatre Factory and many community and semi-professional theater audience demographics.
“Outside of King Lear, there are few lead roles written for older actors, so I jumped at this very funny role and play,” he says.
Mixing it up
Elson portrays Irving Kaminsky, a New York Jewish widower whose son convinces him he needs to “get out and mix it up a little.” His conflict is with reconciling his love for his dead wife and the attraction and affection he feels for his new friend Peg whom he meets on a seniors dating service that describes her as a “busy, God-fearing, slightly anti- Semitic Catholic gal.”
Linda Stayer of Murrysville plays Peg, the Irish-Catholic widow with daughters who are pushing her to get back into the dating scene as well. Her character is “mostly sweet, funny and uncomplicated, but with enough backbone to stand up for herself,” she says.
Elson and Stayer recall acting opposite each other in another two-person show, “Handy Dandy,” at the same theater 16 years ago, directed by Ron Ferrara of Vandergrift, who also directs “Kalamazoo.”
“When I was told that Howard and Linda were the two characters, I jumped at the opportunity” to direct the show, Ferrara says. “Their chemistry is impeccable and their talent unequaled.”
The director says he thinks theatergoers of all ages will appreciate the comic banter in the romantic comedy.
“They will enjoy each vignette that these two Baby Boomers experience. I hope they will all realize that you’re never too old to be young,” he says.
Originally written as a one-act play by Michelle Kholos Brooks, daughter-in-law of comedian Mel Brooks (“Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein”), and Kelly Younger, Theatre Factory’s production of “Kalamazoo” will include an intermission.
Susan Shirey is stage manager.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.