"THE LAST ROMANCE:" AN OLD-FASHIONED VALENTINE TO LOVE


BONNIE GOLDBERG

One of the more unique places to meet a mate might be a dog park, even if you don't own a terrier or a pug.  Just ask Ralph Bellini who has accumulated a lot of wisdom in his eighty years on earth. He knows he is fighting a ticking clock so he wastes no time when he sees the lovely Carol and her little pooch Peaches go to the special canine place in the park.

To meet Ralph and Carol and Peaches, make a beeline, with a few biscuits and bones, to the Ivoryton Playhouse until Sunday, May 10 for the charming Valentine of a comedy "The Last Romance" by Joe Di Pietro.

Widowed for a dozen years, Ralph, played by a charming and debonair Chet Carlin, has settled into a tidy, quiet life with his sister Rose, a feisty, outspoken, truth-at-any-cost Kate Konigisor. She cooks, cleans and protects him, lest there be a repeat of the ominous events of October 25. Rose, herself, has been separated from hubby Tony for more than two decades and is secure in the knowledge that she is right and he is wrong. Now Ralph is feeling like he's on a leash as Rose controls his comings and goings according to her schedule.

One day Ralph takes a different route for his daily walk and spies Carol Reynolds, captured delightfully by Rochelle Slovin. Carol resists Ralph's wit and wisdom and Casanova ways as he ardently pursues her, until she finally falls prey to his affectionate courting.

Cupid has a few major obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is a vocal Rose who doesn't want Ralph to abandon her for another woman. Helping Ralph win Carol's heart are the warmly sensitive arias sung by Stephen Mir, who represents Ralph in his youth, when he had a chance for a career at the Metropolitan Opera House. Maggie McGlone Jennings directs this pretty pastiche of late in life passion.

For tickets ($42, seniors $37, students $20, children $15), call lvoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318, or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Imagine the Beatles are serenading with "I Want to Hold Your Hand" as Ralph and Carol discover love in later life can be just as sweet the second time around, especially with Peaches playing matchmaker.

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