Focus on Community/Arts
Peake Players Bring Movie Classic to Stage

"Ordinary People" opens April 8

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

WYE MILLS - In 1980 the Oscar for Best Picture went to a poignant drama called Ordinary People. It also won the awards for Best Director - Robert Redford - and Best Supporting Actor - Timothy Hutton. Mary Tyler Moore starred as a grief-stricken, somewhat cold-hearted mother in the film, Donald Sutherland played her ever-patient husband, and Judd Hirsch portrayed a somewhat eccentric psychiatrist.

In a few weeks, the Peake Players of Chesapeake College, under the direction of Theatre Professor Anita Tecce, will bring this classic to the stage of the Cadby Theatre in the Kent Humanities Building. "We’re leaving our comfort zone of classic works and modern comedy and trying something a little different this time around," says Tecce. "We think our audiences will appreciate a change of pace - something a little more serious and downright gut-wrenching at times." .

Ordinary People is the story of Conrad Jarrett, a high school student who was recently involved in a boating accident, along with his extremely popular and athletic older brother, Buck. Buck drowned in the accident - Conrad survived. Dealing with survivor’s guilt and the effects of a mother who is no longer able to love her younger son, Conrad attempts suicide. He pulls through, and with the assistance of a loving father, supportive friends, and a good psychiatrist, he works his way slowly back towards mental health and normality.

"It’s very sad at times," Tecce explains, "but at its heart, it’s a positive story - the story of the strength of the human spirit and the healing power of love. It will definitely tug at the audience’s heartstrings."

The Peake Players production will star Brian Helgesen in the role of young Conrad; Kathy Jones as Beth, his heartbroken mother; and Bernie Liswell as Cal, his long-suffering father. "This talented trio gives a powerful rendition of a painfully dysfunctional family," says Tecce. "They capture the pathos of these characters and indeed of anyone who has suffered tremendous loss in their lives."

They are joined by John Whitesell, who gives a strong performance as Berger, the psychiatrist who ultimately helps Conrad find forgiveness in his heart for both himself and his mother. Shane Stringfellow, James Reinhardt, and Caitlin Gregory give strong support as Conrad’s friends, as does Kirsten Cerbone as his love interest.

"This is a show that everyone needs to see at least once," says Tecce. "It’s amazing how well people remember the film, although it’s more than 30 years old. That’s just the kind of story it is."

Ordinary People will open on Friday, April 8th, and run for two weekends. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2:30. Admission is $10. For more information, call 410-822-5400, ext. 278.

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