Shared from the 2017-05-28 Dayton Daily News eEdition

PERFNRLING ARTR

Young at Heart Players presents ‘First Kisses’ production

Picture

J. Gary Thompson and Annie Pesch portray lifelong friends John and Mary in Young at Heart Players’ presentation of Jay D. Hanagan’s charming and sentimental love story “First Kisses” slated June 2-11 at the Dayton Playhouse. CNNTRIBUTED

IF YOU GO

What:“First Kisses” Where: Dayton Playhouse, 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., Dayton When: June 2-11; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays Cost: $15 for adults; $12 for seniors and students Tickets/more info: Tickets may be purchased at the door; Reservations can be made by calling Fran Pesch at (937) 654-0400. For additional information, visit www.youngatheartplayers.com Content: The production contains some adult language FYI: Fran Pesch encourages patrons to share a memory from their“love story,”a memorable part of their journey, etc. Comments, preferably between 100-200 words, will be posted on a display in the lobby during the run of the show. Contributors may send comments through the troupe’s website at www.youngatheartplayers.com or by e-mail to fpesch3@hotmail.com.

Jay D. Hanagan’s tender two-hander “First Kisses,” an endearing love story spanning 60 years and a memorable finalist in the 2003 Dayton Playhouse FutureFest of new plays, will be presented by the senior-themed theater troupe Young at Heart Players beginning Friday, June 2 at the Dayton Playhouse.

Starring Annie Pesch and J. Gary Thompson, portraying a range of ages from 11 to 72, “First Kisses” chronicles the close relationship between Mary and John who grow up and grow old together while navigating the triumphs and pitfalls of life.

“This play has great character development and it’s also timeless,” said director/Young at Heart founder Fran Pesch, who helmed the play’s splendid FutureFest staged reading. “It speaks to the phases we go through in life especially in the realm of love. I originally thought to stage the show with multiple couples, but I ultimately realized this show could be a true tour-de-force for two actors, which is how it was presented originally. There is a difference between being a good actor and a versatile actor and this show definitely features versatile actors.”

“I relate to this play much more than I did 14 years ago,” echoed Pesch’s daughter Annie, who reprises her role as Mary and notably directed Young at Heart’s regional premiere of “Ripcord” last fall. “I was in college the first time I did the show and have since had many different life experiences. I’ve experienced things or know people who have gone through some of the things Mary and John go through when they’re particularly older in the second act. Gary and I have also worked together in the past and it’s been great working with him again. It’s been fun building on our chemistry to tell this really beautiful story.”

Hanagan set his small-town play in a shack in the woods between two properties where Mary and John would simply hideout and converse. Annie, a Wright State University theater graduate and an Artistic Associate with Magnolia Theatre Company, finds the quaint setting an integral part of the play’s charming appeal.

“I love the idea of a secret meeting place,” she said. “The shack is where Mary and John come back to whenever they have hard times or need someone to talk to. No matter the trials they go through, they always have the shack, the place where their friendship and love story begins to blossom and where we see their highs and lows throughout life. There is something all audiences can relate to in this story, especially situations involving death or experiencing tough times in life when you’re not secure with yourself and you’re having doubts.”

Since debuting in 2001 with “Waiting in the Wings,” Young at Heart’s mission to produce plays infused with topics such as ageism and connection has included “Driving Miss Daisy,” “The Gin Game,” “The Cemetery Club,” and “Circle Mirror Transformation” to name just a few. Purposefully choosing a departure from weighty subject matter, Fran is hopeful “First Kisses” provides another refreshing change of pace for the organization’s base.

“This season I didn’t want to tackle a play dealing with Alzheimer’s or other sicknesses,” she said. “Seniors go through many aspects of life and this play is a celebration of life. ‘First Kisses’ is a cute, happy and sentimental show. I want people to walk away feeling good. I hope they have a wonderful time.”

Contact this contributing

writer at rflorence2@gmail.com.

‘It speaks to the phases we go through in life especially in the realm of love. I originally thought to stage the show with multiple couples, but I ultimately realized this show could be a true tour-de-force for two actors, which is how it was presented originally. There is a difference between being a good actor and a versatile actor and this show definitely features versatile actors.’
Fran Pesch
Director

See this article in the e-Edition Here