Monday, June 5, 2017

Scripps Ranch Theatre “Loves and Hours” charms.

There was a time when Stephen Metcalfe was the talk of town when it came to mounting plays at The Old Globe especially with Jack O’Brien at the helm. Consider “Emily”, “Strange Snow”, “White Men Dancing” and “Vikings” to name a few yours truly had seen. In 2003 Metcalfe’s romantic comedy, “Loves and Hours” was in a world premiere production on the main stage of The Globe and was given a top-notch airing. 

It’s been a while since his name has popped up, but fear not, Scripps Ranch Theatre in Scripps Ranch is launching  “Loves and Hours” through July 2nd and it’s easy summer fare. This one is about mid life crisis in older men (give me a break in their late 40’s) being seduced by or seducing younger women.

Taylor Henderson and Francis Gercke
The story line jigs and jags back and forth from location to location and from relationship to relationship, some predictable others not so much. Bob Suttleworth designed the detailed but sparse set designating the locations of each couple/person/and place. San Diego landmarks in signs and  posters are everywhere. Metcalfe lives in La Jolla and is familiar with the local landscape.  

Giving Metcalfe a leg up, he touches on love and marriage, divorce, affairs of the mind, the heart, single, older, gay and otherwise. He gives the audience something to think about every time the lead character Dan (a convincing Francis Gercke, who also directs) breaks the forth wall and talks to the audience while trying to explain his life, good, bad or otherwise.

Francis Ggercke as Dan Tilney in "Loves and Hours"
The beleaguered divorcee Dan, always the bridesmaid and never the bride, is trying to get on with his life. He’s at a loss. When we first meet up with him at his best friend Harold’s wedding he’s looking for an escape route but is the best man carrying the wedding ring.

He hates weddings and especially wedding receptions: “I hate wedding receptions. You’re always running into people. They ask you questions you don’t feel like answering…”

Harold (Paul Maley), Dan’s best friend, he's 49, took himself a trophy bride  (“ a hood ornament of God”). Andrea (Sofia Sassone fits the bill) twenty years his junior has him on an exercise and diet regimen that might some day kill him. She’s 24 about Dan’s son’s age.

Sofia Sassone and Paul Maley
At the same wedding reception we also get to meet the other players: Dan’s son, Dan, Jr. (a very handsome and buff Jake Rosko) is a student at Georgetown College, Dan’s daughter Rebecca (Beth Gallagher) is doing an internship in Los Angeles, his ex wife Linda (an always excellent Dana Hooley), came out after years of being married to Dan and now has a wife, former next door neighbors Sara and Tom (DeNae Steele and William Stone Parker), who pass like strangers in the night and have zip of a marraige and long time friend Julia (a pensive and laid back Tori King Rice) Harold’s sister who has had a crush on Dan since they were in school together. He was clueless.     

Dan’s life takes a sharp turn when he is audited by the IRS and lo and behold, the IRS guy turns out to be a beautiful young woman, (think Dan’s daughter’s age) who finds an attractive father figure in Dan and plays him like a violin.

Francis Gercke and Taylor Henderson
Charlotte (Taylor Henderson is adorable and alluring) seduces Dan with a few strokes of kindness, a youthful enthusiasm and voila, Dan is hooked…line and sinker. For the first time in a long time Dan Feels alive and on track with his heart and his life as he ignores all the little signs that nag at him. No one in Dan’s circle can convince him he’s making a mistake. He’s in love!

And the beat goes on. Dan and Charlotte continue to meet, they have their little fling, he attends all her ‘concerts’, he loves what she loves and he is in a state of bliss, (“She did all the talking. All I had to do was smile and listen”).

Jake Rosko as Dan JR. and DeNae Steele as Sara
But when Dan’s daughter tells her father that she is in love with and older man, about Dan’s age, and Dan, JR is schtupping neighbor Sara right under his nose, (read at Dan’s own home) the you know what hit’s the fan.  

Gercke’s direction is crisp and he keeps the players moving at a fine pace with about 20 scenes to take us through.  It plays like a good movie, something Metcalfe, an accomplished screenwriter is most noted for, i.e., “Pretty Women” in his list of accomplishments.

The acting is a bit uneven but overall we are drawn into Dan’s world of the ‘mystery of love’ for another examination of ‘What makes the world go ‘round”.

Dan to audience after all is said and done: “I’m crazy about weddings…As I’ve gotten older and the hours seem to pass so quickly that’s what’s so important to me- spending fine time with people important to me.”

Adding to the overall experience of spending the evening with Dan and his family, Steve Murdock’s sounds of planes and helicopters are attention getters, Michael Simkovsky lighting pinpoints to the locations and places on Bob Shuttleworth’s San Diego based set.
See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through July 2nd
Organization: Scripps Ranch Theater
Phone: 858.578.7728
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 9783 Avenue of Nations, San Diego, CA 92131
Ticket Prices: Start at $31.00
Venue: Legler Benbough Theatre/ Alliant International University

Photo: Ken Jacques


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