The current show at the Newport Playhouse is "A Nice Family Gathering". A man dies unexpectedly, without having told his wife of 35 years that he loved her something he neglected to tell her while he was alive. The problem is, she can't see or hear him. Dad returns to Earth to ask his son Carl to deliver that message for him. While Carl sees his father clearly, none of the other characters are able to see him at all. The show takes place on the first Thanksgiving since Dad has passed away. The Lundeen family gathers together: Carl, his older brother Michael, a doctor, his wife, Jill and their sister Stacy have come to spend the holiday with their mother. Unbeknownst to her family, Mom has invited Jerry Myers to be her dinner date. Jerry was Dad's golfing buddy. The presence of Jerry infuriates Dad, who then asks a second favor of Carl: to get Jerry to leave. The two brothers also question Jerry's intentions, and wonder whether Jerry is preying on their mother to get money from her. Meanwhile, Jill, who is on fertility drugs, bursts into tears incessantly, while Stacy announces she is pregnant. Director Sandy Cerel casts the show beautifully and mixes the comic and poignant moments together perfectly in this show about sibling rivalry with many gags abounding in it.
Sandy gives her cast her insight into these characters to win the audience over whether they are laughing or choking back tears. Many hilarious situations take place in the show due to Dad's invisibility. Set designer Fred Davison creates a gorgeous unit set of outdoors with fence, front door, a living room and a dining room. Stage manager Henryce Zannini keeps things running smoothly all night long. Cindy Killavey wins the audience over with her portrayal of this seemingly absent minded woman. She shines in this role, giving it the depth and poignancy needed. Cindy is wonderful as the scatter-brained and bubbly mother. A running gag is that she can never remember her daughter's name and that she mixes up the holiday that they are celebrating. Some of her funniest one liners include: I like jumbo shrimp, Spam makes me laugh and I'm as hungry as a wood tick. Real life husband Jim, plays her deceased husband in the show. Why did he return to earth? Will he make a difference in the lives of his family members? Jim delivers the goods whether he is insulting Carl, passing out when he gets bored with the conversation and putting his former golfing partner Jerry down. He has some of the funniest lines in this show and delivers a tearful resolution at the close of the show. Their son, Kevin Killavey plays Carl who is the only person to see Dad. Their exchanges are hilarious and gives the show a "Blithe Spirit" or "Bewitched" type feel to it. He is very funny in the role but it is the tear jerking realization scene that brings tears to your eyes which is his best moment in the show. Be sure to tell your family that you care about them while you can is the message of this show. Brian Killavey, his older brother plays Carl at alternating performances.
The other cast members do wonderful work, too.John Moreau plays Jerry who is an uncomfortable guest at the festivities and runs out to the store when he is embarrassed to buy cheese whiz. Ed Carusi plays Jerry at alternating performances. Jonathan Keene plays Michael who has a secret that he hides from the family. His funniest line is if I get sent to prison I hope I don't become anyone's bitch and his funniest scene is when he and his wife run out of the bedroom after doing it during Thanksgiving festivities.Kat Sanford, a pretty buxom brunette, is his wife, Jill and is very funny as the constantly crying wife. She has a very funny drunk scene in the show. Jessica another pretty brunette is a hoot as Stacy their sister who wants to be noticed and appreciated by her family. She reveals she is pregnant and has a secret that the audience finds out about during the show. Be sure to enjoy the all you can eat buffet before the show with mouth watering treats prepared by Sue Raposa and a fun filled cabaret after the show. So for a heart warming comedy, be sure to catch "A Nice Family Gathering."