note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Sheila Barth
Last Friday night, real-life drama unfolded at Marblehead Little Theatre. A few hours before opening, star Katelyn Beaudoin became ill and was unable to perform. Last minute, stage manager Leah Beninato stepped in, script in hand, and Marblehead playwright Shari Frostís new, one-act play, ďKat(i)e and J(aw)hn,Ē went on, without a hitch. While Beninato performed admirably, Director Anne Lucas assured theatergoers Beaudoin will perform this week.
Although Frostís play is making its debut and needs some tweaking, itís an interesting drama, bolstered by Lucasí direction and Andrew Barnettís set.
The plot revolves around ex-convict John, (nicely portrayed by Chris Clark), whoís trying to rebuild his life and relationship with his estranged adopted daughter, Katie, a freshman at Tulane University. Their close relationship became shattered when John, an unemployed factory worker, was sent to prison for seven years and was forced to absolve himself from parental ties to Katie in a separate court proceeding. Biologically, John isnít her father.
Post-Katrina, heís opening a muffin shop near Tulane, using recipes he and Katie enjoyed making when she was younger. Heís hoping to give back to Katie and ensure her future, while rebuilding their ties.
Through a fellow convict, John hires a local construction guy named Sonny (Michael R. Siering), to shape up the wrecked place he bought and get it ready for opening in a week. Siering lends bittersweet comic relief throughout the play.
We also learn surprising, tragic information about seemingly low-key, sidewalk philosopher Sonny and soft-spoken John, who practices yoga to control his stress and anger. Although Kate rejects John, sheís conflicted. Her emotional wounds cut deeper than superficially, and she inwardly yearns for love, support and approval.
Meghan Holtz does a fine job as Kateís mother/Johnís ex-wife, Barbara, but her character needs further development. Sheís showy, self-involved, a hairdresser whoís proud of her work but carps at her daughter, mostly because of Kateís appearance. Yet she flies from Detroit to protect Kate from Johnís hurting her emotionally, threatening him with a restraining order. Sheís not all bad. Swishing around with a huge, colorful tote bag, Barbara puts money in a homeless manís cup. She loves Kate, she says, but could never talk to her.
Vernon Dinnall as a homeless street musician on the sidelines, outside the muffin shop, quietly strums tunes, singing how itís all about the money, Louisiana, and his dreams. Dinnallís voice is pleasant, but his character, meant to provide local New Orleans color, is inconsequential.
BOX INFO: One-act, 90-minute new play written by Shari D. Frost, appearing March 23,24, at 8 p.m. and March 25 at 2 p.m. at Marblehead Little Theatre, 12 School St., Marblehead. Tickets: $20; students with ID, $15; at the door, $25. Visit www.mltlive.com