Bonnie Goldberg converses with Sarna Lapine about Goodspeed’s newest musical, “You Are Here”

Sarna Lapine never aspired to be an actor or a playwright. This is despite the fact that she loves theater, literature and reading. She does love to analyze texts and is excited about the way to take conversations and bring them to life. It’s not so surprising that Sarna Lapine has become a director, one who is sought after. For her apprenticeship, she served as associate director on Broadway for Bartlett Sher and she hasn’t looked back since.

Recently Sarna undertook her most ambitious project ever, overseeing a “really fabulous American play I always wanted to direct.” “.Photograph 51” was cool, satisfying and challenging. Combining philosophy and science, it concerned the first image ever of a double helix, to unlock DNA.” With a producer, set designer, interpreter and translator, she spent a year in Japan transforming her dream into reality once the rights to the piece finally became available.

Today she is working closer to home, at Goodspeed’s Terris Theatre in Chester, on a new project, one that has never been staged before: “You Are Here;” with book by Brian Hill and music and lyrics by Neil Bertram. This bittersweet musical asks the question “what if?” of Diana, a Chicago housewife in 1969.

July 20, 1969 is a signature day for Diana, not only does she witness on television a man historically walk on the moon for the first time, she takes a giant leap of her own. This late-in-life lady suddenly finds herself abandoning her existence in the suburbs with a cozy couch and kitchen, to strike out into a fast-paced world with a keen desire to discover herself. This housewife, with no children and a staid and stable husband, seeks to find who she is. No more quiet inner life for her.

Diana is being brought to life by Patti Cohenour, whom Sarna Lapine says “is carrying the part beautifully, with honesty, strength and vulnerability, just as the composers imagined.” In her journey of discovery, Diana is accompanied by three voices, Andrea Frierson, Stacia Fernandez and Dan Rosales. With her security net evaporated and a new to-do list in hand, Diana proves it’s never too late to change, in a deeply moving performance, that will surely touch the audience.

The message to the audience is to “step out of your comfort zone and try something new Live in the moment and start from where you are now.” The music is an “articulation of Diana’s experiential journey over a period of just four days.” To Lapine, directing a brand new work has special aspects, “the reward of embracing an unknown and making discoveries. This super professional cast is up for the challenges.”

For tickets ($49-54), call Goodspeed at 860-873-8668 or online at Performances will be at the Terris Theatre, 33 North Main Street, Chester from May 18 to June 10. Shows are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

For Sarna Lapine, directing will never be boring. She is on her toes all the time, without any need for ballet shoes. She knows how to live in the moment, just like Diana, and she is not afraid to take a leap into the unknown.

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