Love in the limelight
Before you wrap up your Valentines festivities, catch Little Theatre of Owatonna’s production of Prelude to a Kiss by Craig Lucas.
This romantic comedy follows the misadventure of Peter and Rita, a couple who fall in love and get married. On the day of their wedding, however, an old man approaches Rita asking for a kiss from the bride. As soon as their lips touch, their souls switch bodies, and Peter is left to figure out how to switch them back. The play touches on themes of commitment and what it means to love someone beyond their appearance.
Artistic director Craig Berg calls it, “a good date show.” He says the premise of an old man and a young woman switching bodies allows from touching moments, and the “fantasy element is fun.”
Mary Butler-Fraser, who’s serving as the show’s technical director, says, “It’s very different.”
Neither Berg nor Butler are new to theatre magic. Berg has been involved in over 60 productions, while Butler has worked on over 90 shows.
They first collaborated on Little Shop of Horrors, Berg’s directorial debut, when the original director had to back out. The two found they worked well together and “always knew what the other was thinking,” according to Butler. Since then they’ve worked on six more show, including a sold-out run of Grease.
Prelude marks their seventh and final collaboration. Health concerns have forced Berg to retire from theater after 29 years. He said auditioning for his first show back in 1988 was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. Butler said it’s “kind of heart-breaking” for their partnership to be coming to a close.
Despite the bittersweet feeling to their final team-up, both are excited to show Prelude to audiences. Berg has never directed a romance before and was intrigued to direct the play after being recommended it.
There’s a challenge he said in finding a way for actor to portray having different souls in their bodies. He needed audiences to be able to recognize similarities in a character even when a totally different actor was portraying them.
Butler faced her own technical challenges. The many community theatres in the area draw on the same pool of stagehands and tech people, so they were in danger of finding themselves short-handed. She encourages anyone who has an interested in theater to volunteer to help with a production. Their help would not go unappreciated.
On stage, Nate Chesney, who plays Peter, is excited to be undertaking his twelfth theater production. His previous roles include Stephen in Farragut North for which he received “Southern Minnesota Best Actor” by Scene Magazine.
“It’s different. I’ve never had to play such a normal character,” Chesney said, “It’s nice.” He said it was challenge getting a grip on the love story. He has to be in love with not just a young woman in her twenties, but also an elderly man. In a bit of a reverse, he said it was actually a little more daunting to play opposite the young woman, because at least he had worked before with actor playing the old man. The young woman playing Rita and him were strangers prior to auditions.
Challenges aside, Chesney thinks the show has a lot of humor and sentiment that make it a great romantic-comedy, especially for this Valentines season. When asked why people should come see the show, Chesney simply replied, “Because they’ll be entertained.”
The show opens on Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. and continues with 7:30 p.m. shows on Feb. 18, 24, and 25. There will be 2:00 p.m. matinees on Feb. 19 and 26. Tickets are available online at http://littletheatreofowatonna.org or at The Little Theatre of Owatonna box office. It’s $16 for adults and $14 for students. The show contains adult material and language that may not be appropriate for younger audience members.