Encore Michigan

Tibbits’ “Alone Together Again” is funny and endearing

Review August 08, 2015 Anne Kiley

new-Alone-Together-Again-Live-15by Bridgette Redman

What happens to empty nesters after the children have finally flown the coop? Invariably, the older generation starts moving back in.

“Alone Together Again” plays at the Tibbits Opera House one year after Lawrence Roman’s “Alone Together” was produced. This year’s production fares much better than last year’s. The actors are more on target and the play’s genuine comedy comes out.

“Alone Together” featured the children of this couple moving back into the nest even though they were in their 20s and 30s. “Alone Together Again” has the couple’s parents moving in as their lives go through such challenges as trial separations and their house getting fumigated.

Helene and George Butler, played respectively by Debbie Culver and Alan Elliott, are settling into life alone together. Helene has a chance to follow her long-time dream of having a one-woman show in an art gallery, but she’s got to produce six new oil paintings in a very short time. They determine that she will have nothing to distract her and she commits to doing it.

Then the doorbell rings.

In comes her father “Pop,” played by Ken Prewitt, who is having a trial separation with her mother, Ruth, (Gloria Logan). He’s moving in while they’re trying out the separation and then Ruth moves in because she’s not going to do the trial separation alone. Before Helene and George have a chance to catch their breath, George’s mother, Grace, (Donna Adams Schulte) is at the door with a suitcase because she’s getting her house fumigated for bugs.

Charles Burr directs this comedy and he gets a lot more out of his cast this time than he did last year. Culver still stumbles, but the character is flustered enough that it can seem like a choice rather than an actor’s mistake. There are also a few pacing issues, but nothing that interferes with the comic timing needed for this show.

Prewitt is especially entertaining as “Pop.” At 79, he’s suddenly obsessed with technology and robotics. Prewitt endears himself to the Tibbits audience during his monologue about obsolescence and how difficult it is to keep up with a changing world.

Logan comes on strong as Ruth, especially when arguing with Helene or Pop. Schulte is sweet even as she goes through her morbid recounting of the burial crypts her friends are ending up in and the get-togethers they’re planning after they’re gone.

But the play comes down to Culver and Elliott. They start out certain they have the perfect marriage, but the cracks start showing as the stress of having their parents in the house builds. Elliott is laid-back and attempts to be the perfect husband, refusing to be drawn in to some of the more dangerous “discussions” his wife wants to have. Culver is tense and flustered, but manages to see where their parents are most needy. Together they are affectionate and seem to be able to handle each other well…at first, anyway.

While costumes are often more noticeable in period pieces or fantasies such as Peter Pan, Marc W. Vital II does a fine job of costuming this show. It was especially noticeable in the many tops that Helene wore, all showing that she has an artistic sensibility which is in line with how the script describes her.

Set Designer Jamie DeHay built a two-story set with four working doors that looked very similar to last year’s set.

“Alone Together Again” is a show with a lot of laughs in it. It fulfills the role of family comedy and is brimming with funny lines and situations. It’s a lovely and fitting comedy with which to end Tibbits’ summer season.

<b>SHOW DETAILS:<br>Alone Together Again</b><br>Tibbit’s Summer Theatre<br>14 S. Hanchett Street, Coldwater <br>August 6-15; <br>8:00 p.m. on August 6–8 and August 13–15 <br>Matinees at 2:00 p.m. on August 6 and 12<br>$12.00-$33.00<br>517-278-6029<br><a href=”http://www.Tibbits.org” target=”_new”>Tibbits.org</a>