“LIL’S 90th” BEING CELEBRATED IN WORLD PREMIERE AT LONG WHARF


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Preparing for a birthday party is a joyous occasion.  If it’s for a toddler, it involves party hats and loot bags of candy and maybe an appearance by a clown, a magician or a pony.  A Sweet Sixteen party has different needs like the social mix of boys and girls with a DJ for entertainment.  Every age has specific requirements, and Darci Picoult’s “Lil’s 90th” is no exception.

Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven is presenting on Stage II this poignant and bittersweet tale, a world premiere, until Sunday, February 7.  Billed as a late-life love story, it chronicles a week in the lives of Charles and Lillian Eldridge as they prepare for the gala celebration of Lil’s birth nine decades earlier. 

Lil may not be ready for the Willard Scott Smuckers’ jar focus on hitting one hundred, but family and friends are flying and driving in from all over the country and Lil is preparing a musical program to highlight her singing talents.  “Lil’s 90th” is a family play that features a couple in real life, Lois Smith and David Margulies, who bring their love and caring beautifully to the stage, sharing a spoon of whipped cream or her sitting tenderly on his arthritic knees.

Completing the talented cast are Kristine Nielsen as the eager-to-please daughter Stephanie who wants this grand fete to be perfect, her son Tommy, portrayed by Nick Blaemire, who is providing his grandmother with musical direction but will fight demons and dragons if necessary and

Tommy’s new girlfriend Deidre, a sympathetic Lucy Walters, who is swept, ready or not, into the family’s complicated world.  Jo Bonney directs this involving love story, with its secrets and surprises, like the unexpected guest of Alzheimer’s disease, with a gentle hand.

For tickets ($30-65), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Over five million Americans are living with the burden of the debilitating mental ailment Alzheimer’s disease. Long Wharf Theatre, partnering with academic, medical and pharmaceutical professionals, is hosting a unique event on Friday, January 29, and features panel discussions on Alzheimer’s disease research, culminating in a performance of “Lil’s 90th,” that intertwines issues related to aging within its narrative. The forum will begin at 1:30 p.m. with registration and a coffee bar. At 2 p.m. guests will be invited to the Mainstage for a program of speakers and panel discussions.  From 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. dinner and dessert will be served. The performance of “Lil’s 90th” will begin at 7 p.m., and will be followed by a final panel discussion. Tickets are $150 (or $100 for the conference alone) and include the conference, dinner and the performance. For more information call Eileen Wiseman, director of development, at 203-772-8237 or visit www.longwharf.org.

Join the festivities for Lil’s special night as sixty- five years of marriage encounter unexpected bumps in the road.  Gifts are optional.

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