Main Street Players presents Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Photo provided by Main Street Players

NORMA RICHARDSON, special contributor to The GRIP :::

The Main Street Players 20th anniversary season continues with Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, a gleefully entertaining comedy inspired by the work of the great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov.

The play begins in Buck County, Pa., where we meet two adult siblings named Vanya and Sonia. The duo resides in their old family home and spend their days bemoaning their assorted missed opportunities and shattered hopes. One day, their fortune-telling (but frequently incorrect) maid warns them of impending danger, and the prophecy is quickly followed by the arrival of Vanya and Sonia’s movie-star sister Masha and her young boyfriend Spike. In no time at all, the household is launched into upheaval, as themes of celebrity, social media and aging are cleverly explored over the course of a single chaotic weekend.

The play was written by Christopher Durang, who is best-known for his works of outrageous, absurd comedy. Drawing assorted bits and pieces from classic works by Anton Chekhov, Durang assembled a creation that feels both familiar and wholly original.

“My work is not a Chekhov parody,” the playwright explained. “I take Chekhov scenes and characters and put them in a blender.”

Though audience members who are familiar with Chekhov’s work will no doubt find added humor in the production, no homework is required. The New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley praised the play’s fusion of intelligence and accessibility, noting that, “even if you’ve never read a word of Chekhov, you’re likely to find plenty to make you laugh.”

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike began life as a one-act play at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J. Following rave reviews, the play moved into Off-Broadway and Broadway productions featuring an all-star cast: Sigourney Weaver, David Hyde Pierce, Kristine Nielsen and Billy Magnussen.

The production would go on to earn six Tony Award nominations, winning the award for Best Play.

Since that time, the play has been performed at many theatres around the country, and Main Street is delighted to introduce local audiences to this wonderful show.

Main Street’s production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is directed by MSP Scenic Designer BJ Hughes.

The cast includes a variety of new and familiar faces: Chris Gansel as Vanya, Kristi Taylor as Sonia, Brooke Manolis as Cassandra, Jill Shedd as Masha, Walker Davis as Spike and Alexandria Childers as Nina.

Benjamin Daugherty serves as stage manager, while Janice Aiken fills the role of production assistant. Lighting design is provided by Nate Barnes, costume design is by MSP Artistic Director Norma Richardson and sound design is by BJ Hughes.

As the COVID-19 pandemic remains a serious public health concern, Main Street will continue to implement a variety of safety protocols. All cast and crew members have been fully vaccinated, and the theatre is requiring that all audience members wear masks while in the building. The staff and management of Main Street Players thank their loyal patrons for their continued cooperation with these measures during these unprecedented circumstances.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will run through Sunday, May 8.

Wednesday through Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinee performances at 3 p.m.

To purchase tickets, contact the Main Street Players box office at 770.229.9916. Tickets are going quickly, so call promptly in order to secure your seat. Tickets can also be purchased online by visiting mainstreetplayers.org and selecting “ticket purchase and information.” Remaining tickets will be sold at the theatre the evening of each performance. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for students, with special discounts available for groups of ten or more.

If an evening of hearty laughter sounds like something you could use right about now, Main Street Players is ready to provide exactly that. Filled with humor, clever social commentary and sharply-drawn characters, this show is a can’t-miss part of Main Street’s 20th Anniversary season.

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