COME MEET THE FAMILY: “VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE”
Playwright Christopher Durang is happy to play mischief maker in the children’s room, the one occupied by middle-aged siblings who never bothered to grow up. Cursed or blessed with the names of characters straight from the scripts of Anton Chekhov’s plays, Vanya, Sonia and Masha are not sure whether they share envy, affection, boredom or misery, or a little of each.
To join the family romp, hop on over to Music Theatre of Connecticut until Sunday, March 13 for the intriguingly different comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” The two sisters and one brother alternately arrive and flee from the family farm house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where their literary loving parents used to reside, before their untimely deaths. Now the designated matriarch is the famous movie and television star Masha, a delightfully over the top Jodi Stevens who holds the purse strings which she opens and closes at will as if it were a yo-yo.
Masha has just made a dramatic entrance, firmly velcroed to a muscle bound young hunk, Spike, an eager to please and advance his career Christopher DeRosa, an actor who feels clothes don’t make the man unless they are shed. His roving eye is quickly noted when a neighboring nymph, dewy with youth, Nina, sweetly played by Carissa Massaro, comes to call as a “fan” of Masha’s and soon is escalated to rival status.
Unmarried and marching on in years, Sonia, a when-am-I-going -to-get-my-chance -to -live Cynthia Hannah spends her days believing she is a wild turkey and searching for a glimpse of a blue heron. With her brother Vanya, who is gay and secretly penning a play, an accommodating Jim Schilling, Sonia has been caring for their elderly parents. Now that that devoted care is no longer needed, the pair have no set occupation or goal to fall back on. Their days are spent arguing about Sonia being adopted and whether or not they can legitimately claim to be living in a cherry orchard when the grove is decidedly less than even a dozen trees. The sudden arrival of Masha, in recovery from her fifth failed marriage, sets that clan in a tizzy, especially when she threatens to sell the ancestral home.
Adding to the fun are the delicious gloom and doom predictions of the housekeeper Cassandra, a spirited Katie Sparer, who wields a voodoo doll to great effect, helping to stir the pot of resentments that threatens to boil over. Will a costume party help or hinder the escalating drama? Are the family home and Masha’s career on the way to extinction? Does Dr. Phil need to be consulted to resolve the sibling rivalry and quarreling? Pamela Hill directs this foray of family foibles with a fine hand.
For tickets ($35-55), call MTC, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk, behind Nine West Shoes, at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. MTC encourages its audience members to support their cause on Giving Day on Thursday, March 10. For 24 hours, you are invited to make a pledge to Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Day of Giving. Go to musictheatreofct.com/givingday.
Stroll through the cherry orchard, if indeed one exists, and enjoy the problems and pleasures of the inmates who roam its borders. Masha would encourage you to come dressed in costume for the scheduled party. Snow White’s Dwarfs are her decidedly perfect choice.