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West T. Hill comedy focuses on grandparents' love of family

February 09, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

Someone recommended that Virginia R. Biles read the play "Over the River and Through the Woods." The director was told it was in interesting play, so she read it - and liked it.

"It speak to anyone who is a grandparent or has ever had grandparents," Biles says. "I see some of my own grandparents in it, and myself, and (husband) George."

"Over the River and Through the Woods," which opens Friday, is a comedy - not a farce, Biles points out - about four Italian grandparents who live in Hoboken, N.J. Frank and Aida (John Penick and Anne Byrom) and Nunzio and Emma (Dale Kihlman and Punch Violette) are first-generation Americans, and family is most important to them, Biles explains.

"Their grandson, Nick (Gordon Couch), comes to them and says he has a promotion" that would take him to Seattle, Biles adds. His grandparents are devastated.

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"They decide to find a girlfriend for him so he'll settle down and stay in the area. But he's a new generation who doesn't want his life managed by his grandparents."

"Over the River and Through the Woods" is a memory play, set in current time, with the characters sometimes addressing the audience. "We see everything through Nick's memory. ... He looks back on his life, particularly these grandparents."

Directing "Over the River and Through the Woods" has been another lesson in deja vu for Biles.

"Two weeks into January, our leading man had to withdraw due to illness," Biles says with a sigh. "This is the third play where this has happened to me.

"I immediately called Gordon Couch. ... He was really interested and came on."

He almost is up to full speed with lines and blocking, she adds.

"And he looks the part, and his age is the part."

"Over the River and Through the Woods" is only the second play in which Couch has performed, Biles says. Another newcomer to the West T. Hill Community Theatre stage is Penick.

Another bonus for the overworked director is Melanie Cupp's offer to decorate the set. Cupp owns Home Again Showplace and jumped at the chance to work on the show, Biles says.

Ultimately, the show is "pure entertainment but it's poignant," Biles notes.

"It makes you think of your grandparents. ... It's just life in this little Italian house."

If you want to go

“Over the River and Through the Woods” will be performed 8 p.m. Feb. 13-14 and 20-21 and 3 p.m. Feb. 15 and 22 at West T. Hill Community Theatre, Larrimore Lane. Tickets are $8/advance, $9/door. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. For tickets, call (859) 236-1310.

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