Brilliant Leads in ‘Old Love’, a Classic Romantic Comedy on the Theatre Jacksonville Stage

Michael Ray and Karen Garret, Photos by Maya Adkins

A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW

Theatre Jacksonville opened the North Florida debut of Old Love on March 1st, 2019. This romantic comedy runs through March 17th. The theatre is located at 2032 San Marco Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida. Visit theatrejax.com for additional information or call 904-396-4425 for reservations.

The play was written by Norm Foster, who has written over fifty plays since 1983 and is Canada’s most-produced playwright. He is a fine actor as well, and is the only nationally known playwright to have appeared on stage at Theatre Jacksonville. He wrote and played the lead to acclaim in On A First Name Basis, during Theatre Jacksonville’s International Theatre Festival in January 2013.

Old Love is a classic romantic comedy that covers a span of thirty years. Bud and Molly first meet at an office Christmas party. He is married to Kitty, Molly is married to Arthur, Bud’s boss. Bud finds himself alone at the party and is delighted when Molly stops by to chat. They see each other a couple of times afterward at the annual party; Bud continues to find her attractive, but is too restrained to pursue her. Fast forward many years: Molly is burying her unloved and now dead husband, and Bud is divorced.

The story of what happens over the years unfolds in seamless flashbacks and we get to meet the young Kitty, brilliantly played by Jenna Bourne as an attractive ambitious woman, and the older Kendra, an unhappily married woman with a secret.

Young Molly is portrayed by UNF student Kayla Chouinard as sophisticated and flirtatious woman who is bored with her role as a housewife and knows – or at least suspects – her husband is cheating.

Old Love, Theatre Jacksonville, Kayla Chouinard and Jason Woods
Kayla Chouinard and Jason Woods

Jason Woods, well known locally for his original works that include Peter Pan, St. George & the Dragon, and his adaptation of Dicken’s Christmas Carol, which he presents during the Christmas season as a spectacular one-man show. He plays the younger/older husband Arthur as ruthless, tough, tart-tongued, and somewhat cynical.

Brandon Kraut is young Bud. He has previously been seen on TJ’s stage in Arsenic and Old Lace and Mamma Mia. Aimee Ortiz makes her debut with TJ as she appears in small supporting roles as Shirley, Delores, Sandra, and Claire. You may not recognize her as she has a different dress and wig for each appearance.

Michelle Svenson Kindy directed the play and is very familiar with Foster’s work as she also directed the playwright’s Hilda’s Boys and Melville Boys on TJ’s stage. Michelle is involved full-time with Theatre Jacksonville as she is now General Manager.

The leading roles for Old Love could not have been cast any better. This is your last chance to delight in the acting talents of Michael Ray in his appearance as Bud Mitchell. His performance is delightful, especially his many monologues, as he seeks to reconnect with the Molly after her husband’s death. He has appeared in eight other TJ shows, performing to perfection in each one. He will be leaving soon to go back north, and he will be missed – hope you’re prepared for the cold up there, Michael.

It is difficult to believe that this is Karen Garret’s first time on TJ’s stage. She has appeared in a number of leading roles with other local theatres, which included Rose in The Rose Tattoo, Lenny in Crimes of the Heart, and Maureen in Beauty Queen of Lennane. In addition, she has had principal roles in over one hundred film, video, and audio productions.

In a series of engaging but thorny encounters in the past and present Michael and Karen, as Bud and Molly, face the facts and fears of infidelity, divorce, death, and everyday life in this insightful charming look at two people who unexpectedly find love in their sunset years.

Old Love, Theatre Jacksonville_Aimee Ortiz, Brandon Kraut and Michael Ray
Aimee Ortiz, Brandon Kraut and Michael Ray

Technical Director Tim Watson created the light design for an unusual set. The furniture is limited to three wooden boxes which are used as a table and chairs. Most of the monologues are performed close to the audience at the edge of the stage.

The Technical production team included Michelle Kindy (Director), Matt King (Assistant Director), Tim Watson (Technical, Lighting & Scenic Design), Tracy Ann Olin (Costumes), Rhonda Fisher (Stage Manager), Savannah LeNoble (Light Board Operator), and Nancy McMillan-Wilson (Sound Board Operator).

Norm Foster’s plays have had hundreds of productions throughout the US, Canada, and Australia. If you’ve seen one, you will know why he is so popular. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.
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