Theatre Wellesley is at it again, this time with their spring show, The Ladies Foursome by renowned playwright Norm Foster.
It’s a story about four women who have been golfing together for years. Then, one of the friends passes away, and the remaining friends begin golfing with a mutual acquaintance of their longtime, now passed, friend. Over the course of the play, they learn they didn’t know as much about her as they thought they did.
“What I liked about this play is that it’s about women, and it’s about friendship,” said Mary Beth Jantzi, the director.
Jantzi said she was drawn to a play about women’s friendships because, “most of the women that I know take a great deal of comfort and joy from their friendships with other women. They can sustain you in some pretty dark times, so I think that has an appeal to a lot of people in our audience.”
The story features four main characters: Connie, Tate, Margo and newcomer Dory.
This is Jantzi’s first time directing with Theatre Wellesley, though she was a long-time drama and English teacher at South Huron District High School. There, she directed high school kids in many productions.
She says that since she would work with the kids largely for four years at a time, she got to know each of them well and would often choose theatre projects based on who she knew would be auditioning.
“Working with adults for this group in particular, they just don’t know me as well. Part of our process has been them just getting to know who I am and what my expectations are and whether or not they like to work with me.”
“There is a playfulness, still, about teenagers, that most of us, I think, if I may say so, that a lot of us lose when we head into adulthood. I think that playfulness is wonderful, and I felt very privileged for all my years of teaching to be able to be around that kind of youthful, creative, spontaneous energy. “One of the things that theatre can do for adults is it can help us recapture some of that energy. It’s the kind of energy that allows us to create and take risks and build trust with one another.”
“I was surprised by how much I am charmed by the role of Tate,” said Jackie Sharkey of the character she plays.
“On its face, she’s kind of a stock character. She’s a stay-at-home mom, three kids who are teenagers, married to a surgeon, a vascular surgeon. She’s described as pretty, you could play her very naïve and kind of like an airhead. And maybe on the first reading that’s what I got from the character too, but she’s actually really funny. There’s a lot more depth to that character than I expected on its face, there’s a lot of thinking – the character’s doing a lot of thinking about how the next chapter for life is going, which I think is a very relatable place in life for a lot of women who see their kids enter a part of their lives where they’re more independent and are now reevaluating what that next chapter means for them. I think I’m surprised by the level of depth that’s in this character that I didn’t see at first,” said Sharkey.
“I also am loving every moment of watching my colleagues, the other actors in this play, and the way our director Mary Beth is drawing these phenomenal performances out of them.”
She said working with Jantzi and learning from her experience is rewarding and one of the main draws for why she decided to audition.
The play is an all-female production, the only male being the assistant director.
“There are parts of relationships of being a woman and the female friendship that you can use shorthand with, and the other members of the cast just get, because we’ve had a similar experience,” said Sharkey.
Jantzi warns that the play covers some frank ground.
“Well, the women talk about a lot of things, as women do. And some of the women are a bit more blunt and descriptive than others. These women talk about sex. They talk about marriage. They talk about their children. They talk about their dreams, their careers. So some people might find that not to their taste,” she said. “So we certainly want to give people a heads-up.”
That said, there are plenty of reasons to take in the play.
“It’s a celebration of what sustained us during the pandemic and that is friendship,” said Jantzi. “Come out to the theatre. I think theatre is a celebration of life. It’s a celebration of everything that makes life worthwhile: our relationships, our hopes, our dreams. And after the two years we’ve had of being shut in it’s absolutely wonderful to get out there and celebrate life.”
The Theatre Wellesley production of The Ladies Foursome runs April 20-30. Tickets are $18, available at Pym’s Market in Wellesley and online through the Theatre Wellesley website.