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Prelude to a Kiss

a Drama
by Craig Lucas

COMPANY : Onstage Atlanta, Inc. [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Onstage Atlanta on Ponce [WEBSITE]
ID# 4862

SHOWING : March 04, 2016 - March 26, 2016



Do you believe in true love? Love at first sight? Magical mysteries? Peter and Rita fell for each other immediately, got engaged, and planned the perfect wedding. But during the reception, a feeble old man asks Rita for a kiss. While nothing seems wrong at first, Peter soon realizes that the kiss caused Rita and the man to switch bodies. As he searches for a way to switch them back, Peter must face the dilemma of loving Rita in the body of a terminally ill man, or staying married to a stranger posing as his wife.

Performances Friday and Saturday 8pm, Sunday 3pm

Director Barry N. West
Minister/Ensemble Adam Bailey
Dr. Boyle Rial Ellsworth
Rita Sara Lynn Herman
Uncle Fred Rod Lindsey
Aunt Dorothy u.s. Courtney Loner
Tom/Ensemble Zack Mountcastle
Mrs. Boyle Nancy Powell
Old Man Scott F. Rousseau
Peter Chris Schulz
Waiter/Ensemble Wayman Stewart
Aunt Dorothy Abra Thurmond
Taylor Alex Towers
Leah/Ensemble Jillian Walzer
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A Badly Scored Movie
by playgoer
Saturday, March 5, 2016
Craig Lucas’ "Prelude to a Kiss" takes place in a number of short scenes taking place in a variety of locations. It’s almost cinematic in that respect. Onstage Atlanta’s production attempts to attain a cinematic flow in its numerous scene changes, with Abra Thurmond’s sound design making use of song clips to cover them. Unfortunately, at least on opening weekend, the music also tended to cover the first couple of lines of the following scene. The music selections tend to comment on what has gone on before and don’t really point the way to the next scene. I found them clunky and distracting.

Barry N. West’s set design pairs an arbor-and-rock wall upstage section with white flats acting as leg curtains. The look is fairly disjointed, and the motley collection of furniture pieces repurposed for scene after scene don’t add any visual panache. Nancye Quarles Hilley’s costumes and Tom Priester’s lighting design add color and style to the proceedings.

The story is billed as "a contemporary fairy tale," but "contemporary" seems to be the timeframe when the play was written (1988) rather than the present day. When newlywed Rita (Sara Lynn Herman) body-swaps with an Old Man (Scott F. Rousseau), the Old Man’s idea of femininity seems to be a 1940’s pin-up girl. The telephones in the show (and lack of social media) also tie the production to an earlier time.

What really works are the performances. Chris Schulz is nerdy but empathetic as Peter, the bridegroom confronted with a honeymooning wife who is nothing like the woman he married. Sara Lynn Herman is wonderful as that woman, forming an instant bond with her co-star in the early scenes, although her honeymoon scenes don’t quite capture the insecurity of a man’s soul trying to control a woman’s body in what he thinks is a natural way. Her transitions to and from being body-swapped are terrific, though. Nancy Powell is sheer perfection as Rita’s mother, and Rial Ellsworth does his usual fine work as Rita’s father. Scott F. Rousseau exudes a nice sweetness as the body-swapped Rita, although his initial scene as the Old Man doesn’t really reflect his mindset as explained later in the play.

Barry N. West has given his ensemble a lot of bit parts to play (and a lot of wigs to wear). They acquit themselves well, particularly Jillian Walzer in the role of Leah, the Old Man’s concerned daughter. Alex Towers, as Peter’s friend Taylor, adds some nice, quirky touches to his character, but doesn’t get much stage time. Mr. West has blocked the show to keep things moving and active, and the ensemble gives the feeling of a populated world. But at its core, "Prelude to a Kiss" is the affecting story of Peter and his love for Rita, in whatever body she might inhabit. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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