Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (One Funny Family) On Stage thru Oct. 7
By Sally Deering
Hoboken’s Mile Square Theatre wants to put a smile on everyone’s face—and who could blame them? We all could use a belly-laugh right about now! So, Artistic Director Chris O’Connor turned to one of the funniest playwrights in contemporary theater, Tony Award winner Christopher Durang and pulled a rabbit out of his hat with this gem of a comedy, MSTs new production Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play. One big reason: it has non-stop laughs – and some belly ones, too — and a cast that’s as much family as the characters they portray. Offstage, Chris O’Connor (Vanya) and Annie McAdams (Masha) are husband and wife; onstage they play sister and brother. Barbara Pitts (Sonia) plays their sister onstage, and in real life, she’s their sister-in-law. Andrea Bellamore (Cassandra) Annette Hammond (Nina) and Jonah Robinson (Spike) round out the cast. Mark Cirnigliaro directs.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike centers on the relationships between a brother (Vanya) and his two sisters (Sonia and Masha), one of whom is adopted. Vanya and Sonia have been living in their parents’ Bucks County house for many years; they took care of their parents when they were still alive. Their sister Masha, a big movie star with an ego to match, drops in on Vanya and Sonia for a surprise visit with her young lover Spike. Masha invites them all to a costume party where Vanya and Sonia discover Masha tried to sell the house out from under them.
“I think this play really connects to people in mid-life,” O’Connor says, “where they are in their life, and how they value their siblings. When we were deciding to cast it, everyone said I should play Vanya. I’m the perfect age, and I am an actor. We decided to cast my wife Annie as Masha and our sister-in-law Barbara Pitts, who is an accomplished New York actor, we wanted her to play Sonia. When we went into rehearsals, we had this chemistry between us that was great for the foundation of the play. Annie’s brother and Barbara’s husband John passed away in April, so this has been incredibly therapeutic and wonderful for us to work on something together.”
Director Mark Cirnigliaro has directed several productions at MST including It’s a Wonderful Life, The Net Will Appear, and Driving Miss Daisy. He also serves as MSTs Associate Artistic Director.
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike connects to audiences on a lot of levels,” Cirnigliaro says. “It’s super funny – from the moment they take the stage to final curtain, it’s a roller-coaster ride of laughter. It’s about family, and how family drives us crazy, but we love each other anyway.”
As Artistic Director, Chris O’Connor says he likes to have a well-rounded season. And as a country, we are going through some tough times. That’s why it’s the perfect time for a comedy, he says.
“People need to laugh,” O’Connor says. “This play is very funny and very modern. It addresses our disconnectedness in the modern world. Vanya explodes in a rant about this that is funny, uplifting and affirming. This play doesn’t look away from where we are in this world.”
If you go
Performances: Oct 7 @ 8 pm; Sundays @ 3 pm
VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE
Mile Square Theater
1400 Clinton St, HOB
Tix: $30-40; $18 students and seniors