Elmira Theatre Company’s upcoming production of Old Love by Norm Foster is the group’s first performance since March 2020, at least one that’s not been delayed due to the pandemic.
“Fingers crossed. There’s two and a half weeks till opening night – the show before this one ended up going on two months old. And then the show before that was put on hold for almost two years,” said director Thom Smith.
“This is the first show where we’ve drilled down and said, ‘OK, we started rehearsing in August, and we’re opening in November.’ So it’s been kind of tough when you’re sort of saying we’re going to meet our deadlines – it’s been a little bit of a push that way,” Smith explained.
Spanning 25 years, Old Love follows the story of Bud Mitchell (Robb Judd) who starts a new job working for Arthur Graham. At the company Christmas party, Bud meets Arthur’s wife, Molly. While Bud feels an immediate attraction to Molly, she takes little notice of him. The two meet again at the following Christmas party, with Molly having no recollection of Bud.
Following a third meeting at an art gallery – where Molly again does not remember him – the company is sold and the pair have no contact for 23 years. That is until Bud, who is now in charge of the company, is notified of his old boss’ death and attends the funeral where he hopes to spark a connection with Molly.
“He’s been divorced for 20 some years and she’s freshly widowed. It’s his chance to try and realize his romantic interest with Molly,” explained Smith.
While the play makes several switches between past and present the production team is developing ways to indicate that to the audience, such as costume changes and lighting.
“You have to be able to keep the audience on track with where you are with respect to the time period you’re in,” Smith explained.
The performance also includes fourth wall breaking and high energy monologues to keep the audience engaged.
“I’ve nothing against William Shakespeare, but [the monologues] can’t be delivered in a Shakespearean manner. So the characters…when they’re talking to the audience, we’re trying to bring the audience into conversation. It’s like you’re sitting down at a table and you’re talking about something that’s going on,” Smith added.
Joining Judd and Moore in the cast are Michael Grant, who plays both Arthur Sr. and Arthur Jr. and Jessica Blondin, who plays Bud’s wife Kitty, and Arthur Jr.’s wife Kendra. Each of the cast brings a unique perspective to the production, Smith said.
“Rob and Kathy both bring a fair amount of stage experience with them. Mike Grant is not only an actor, he’s also a playwright, and he’s written a number of plays that we’ve previously premiered here. Jessica has come from a theatrical schooling background, and she has worked in musical theatre and dance, so she brings that level as well,” said Smith.
The two main characters also provide the conduits for the message Smith is hoping to send.
“I think one of the key things that I’m hoping gets across to people is to never give up on your dreams, no matter how long it takes. And don’t give up on yourself. Bud is the don’t give up on your dreams and Molly is the don’t give up on yourself,” he said.
“Try to keep happy, and try to, you know, enjoy life and not give into what other people tell you you should or shouldn’t be doing, or how you should be behaving,”
The ETC production Old Love runs November 4-6, 10-13 and 17-19 at the organization’s Howard Avenue facility. Show times are Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are available via KW Tickets at 1-800-265-8977 or 519-578-1570 or online at www.elmiratheatre.com.