'Dearly Departed' is the beginning

February 09, 2006|By KRISTIN WILSON

Members of the Old Opera House Theatre Company in Charles Town, W.Va., will kick off their 2006 season with a comedy that follows a "highly dysfunctional" family through the topsy-turvy time of some major life changes.

"Dearly Departed," a play by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones, will debut at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10. The comedy explores the interactions of a family after the head of a family dies.

"It takes us through those couple days of the final arrangements, right up through the funeral and the craziness that can go on in that time among family members," says Steven Brewer, director of the show, manager and artistic director for the Old Opera House Theater Co.


The show, set in a small, fictional Southern town, "pokes fun a little bit at some of the stereotypical, redneck humor," Brewer says.

"This is not the normal theme you would think of as being humorous. Funerals are generally a pretty heart-wrenching experience," Brewer admits, adding that the playwrights nonetheless "have done a marvelous job of bringing these classic moments of humor into the show."

Characters learn in the show that sometimes in order to cope with the loss of life, a good sense of humor and a dose of cooperation can go a long way.

"My own mother passed away just a few years ago," Brewer says, adding that he can relate to some of the themes in the show. "There's always the sadness when I think about my mother's death, but it's kind of interesting to look back at it with a sense of humor."

"Dearly Departed" opens a season of theater that includes popular musicals and Pulitzer Prize-winning dramas.

"Anything Goes" is a 1930s-era musical comedy that follows the antics of a cast of characters on a passenger ship making the voyage from America to England. The show's musical score is well-known for songs such as "I Get a Kick Out of You," "You're the Top" and "Anything Goes."

The theater company also will stage the musical comedy "Gypsy," loosely based on the memoirs of striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. The play follows the story line of a domineering theater mother who tries to guide her daughters into the spotlight.

"The Opera House really tries to do something that's very balanced in our season," Brewer says. "We have two very popular musicals with 'Anything Goes' and 'Gypsy.' On the other hand, we have very modern, cutting-edge drama in 'Proof.' We have a couple comedies to round out our season. The goal is always to make it balanced so there's something for everybody."

"Proof" won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for drama, the 2001 Tony Award for best play and in 2005 was made into a movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Heche as the main character, Catherine, who struggles with her genius for mathematics and concern about mental illness.

"'Proof' has a lot of buzz among our actors," Brewer says. "It's exciting to be able to present something of that quality and that intensity on our stage. It is the type (of play) that would draw actors from a little bit farther away."

Also, in September, the theater will present "Picnic," which is a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by William Inge about the pleasure and pain that comes with forging a life path.

If you go ...

WHAT: "Dearly Departed," a comedy by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones

WHEN: 8 p.m. Feb. 10, 11, 17 and 18; and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 12 and 19

WHERE: Old Opera House Theatre Company, 240 N. George St., Charles Town, W.Va.

COST: $15 for Friday and Saturday shows; $12 for Sunday matinees; $7 admission for students with a valid college ID and children.

DIRECTIONS: Take alternate U.S. 40 to Md. 67. Merge onto U.S. 340 west toward Charles Town. Turn right onto North George Street.

MORE: For more information or to reserve tickets, call 888-900-SHOW or 304-725-4420 or go to

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