The Hippo


May 26, 2020








The Community Players of Concord present Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Courtesy photo​

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Where: Concord City Auditorium, 2 Prince St., Concord 
When: Friday, Feb. 16, and Saturday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 18, 2 p.m. 
Tickets: $20 for adults and $18 for juniors and seniors 
More info:, 344-4747

Family talk
Vanya and Sonia comes to Concord

By Angie Sykeny

 For their 90th anniversary season, the Community Players of Concord have set out to produce highly acclaimed shows that are new to the world of community theater. Their latest, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, opens Friday, Feb. 16, at the Concord City Auditorium. 

A comedy written by Christopher Durang, Vanya and Sonia premiered in 2012 and landed on Broadway in 2013. It centers on three middle-aged siblings, Vanya and Sonia, who have spent their lives taking care of their parents, now deceased, at their family home in Pennsylvania, and their movie star sister Marsha, who owns the home and has supported the family financially. Conflicts arise when Marsha returns home, accompanied by her newest significantly younger lover, Spike, and threatens to sell the house.  
Director Jim Webber said the show is “a very modern comedy,” filled with topical references and contemporary issues. 
“It’s about average people and their experiences and struggles dealing with aspects of the new millenium,” he said. “They look at life as it is today and wonder, ‘What if my life had taken a different course?’ It’s something everyone can relate to.” 
Part of what attracted Webber to Vanya and Sonia is its small cast. With just six roles to fill, good casting is critical, he said, which is why he spent weeks holding auditions and reaching out to actors until he found the ones best suited for those roles. 
“I’ve directed musicals before with casts of 25 people or more, and it’s more like directing a marching band. It’s all about organization, and there isn’t time to explore the hidden meanings and layers of the play,” he said, “but with a small cast, you really have time to get to know the actors as people and what they can bring to their roles, and I thought that was very important for this play.” 
Steve Lajoie was cast as Vanya, alongside his wife Kim Lajoie, who is playing Sonia. What he appreciates about the play, he said, is the authenticity of its characters, particularly of his own character, who is a gay man. 
“Vanya has so many different parts to his personality. It’s been a fun challenge for me to be able to play a gay character without him being some kind of caricature,” Lajoie said. “It’s not just pure comedy. The characters are real people and are really complex. Each character has a moment in the show that makes them who they are.” 
Webber, who is also designing the set for the show, decided to keep it simple to steer the focus toward the characters. Most of the scenes take place with the characters talking outside on the porch of the rural country farmhouse. 
“It’s a very naturalistic play. It doesn’t lend itself much to experimentation,” Webber said. “Rather than filling the stage with everything, I kept it to just the basic essentials and things that will make a point.” 
Lajoie said the genius of the play lies in its witty yet true-to-life dialogue, which is the playwright’s specialty. 
“Christopher Durang has an amazing ear for the way people really talk. That’s what he’s known for,” he said. “It definitely comes through in the script. It’s clever, funny and very touching.” 

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