Posted in Alexis Molnar, brothers and sisters, Chad Beguelin, comedy-drama, Erin Cummings, family comedy drama, family secrets, gay parents, Mark Lamos, mothers and daughters, Paul Anthony Stewart, Randy Harrison

Family Matters in "Harbor"

Hold on  tight. Family can elicit many feelings– not all of them Norman Rockwell images.

Paul Anthony Stewart as Ted, Randy Harrison as Kevin and Alexis Molnar as Lottie celebrate Lottie’s birthday in Chad Beguelin’s “Harbor,” under the direction of Mark Lamos at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters through September 8th. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

In Chad Beguelin’s “Harbor,” playing at 59E59 Theaters in a Primary Stages production through September 8, love and kinship are complicated matters. Family has a bittersweet taste, as complex as bergamon, or one of the sharper mints. It is something of which we should be wary. There truly may not be a sacred bond holding one generation to the next, or even between siblings. 

Donna Adams (Erin Cummings) lives in a van with her fifteen-year old daughter Lottie (Alexis Molnar). Donna’s brother, Kevin Adams-Weller lives in a glorious house in Sag Harbor with his husband, Ted (Paul Anthony Stewart). Donna, a one-woman wrecking crew, descends on the two men for what turns into a prolonged, life-altering stay. Lottie, who is “Asian-smart” as her mother puts it, is appalled but also enthralled by the sudden stability of her surroundings. 

Erin Cummings as Donna, Randy Harrison as Kevin, Paul Anthony Stewart as Ted and Alexis Molnar as Lottie in a scene from Chad Beguelin’s “Harbor” at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Many “a brick of truth,” Donna’s favorite expression, gets dropped in “Harbor,” and somehow, it seems like the “brick” to which she refers may not be a building material. If we think that comedy is meant to be funny, “Harbor” enlightens us. “Harbor” is that and poignant and bright and brittle.

The cast of four all give commendably brilliant performances under the guidance of director Mark Lamos.

Erin Cummings is chilling as the conniving and hapless Donna. Alexis Molnar matches her stroke for stroke as the savvy and befuddled Lottie. Paul Anthony Stewart, who gets a wonderful rant in the opening scenes, recognizes all the subtle nuances that make ted tick, even the things the man doesn’t seem to know about himself. Boyish and unmoored, Randy Harrison depicts a Kevin who is malleable and unformed to a tee.

Ted and Kevin’s beautiful and immaculate Sag Harbor house is lovingly designed by Andrew Jackness, with views of its outside projected on the side walls.

“Harbor” is as complex and complicated as the most intricate family ties which it portrays with elegance and grace.

For more information about “Harbor,” please visit www.primarystages.org.

Posted in adoption, Chicago fires, family drama, fathers and daughters, mothers and daughters, Route 66 Theatre Company

"A Twist of Water" is a very Personal History Lesson

Rebuilding your home after a disaster is an act of faith that is emblematic of human resilience.

In “A Twist of Water,” the Route 66 Theatre Company production playing at 59E59 Theaters through November 25th, the rebuilding is both symbolized by Chicago and extremely personal.

Noah (Stef Tovar) is left to care for the daughter, Jira (Felashay Pearson), he and his partner, Richard, adopted seventeen years ago. Jira and Noah miss Richard very much since his death in a car accident left them to their own devices.

Alex Hugh Brown as Liam and Stef Tovar as Noah in at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg

Jira, angered by the loss, and a teenager, does not make Noah’s task of fathering easy.Noah has an ally in fellow teacher Liam (Alex Hugh Brown), who runs interference for this loving family. “If I tell her,” Noah says, “that we are all made up of moving water, and unearned hope, and risk… If I tell her she is the only home I require…” Jira’s decision to seek out her birth mother, Tia (Lili-Anne Brown), adds to the friction between father and daughter. As Noah says, “Discovery is a wonderful and fearsome thing.” 


Stef Tovar as Noah and Falashay Pearson as Jira in “A Twist  of Water” at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg

Catilin Parrish (story, playwright) and Erica Weiss (story, director) have collaborated on a very moving tale in ““A Twist  of Water.” They and the cast offer up some very powerful and deeply affecting lessons in love and history. 


 Lili-Anne Brown as Tia and Falashay Pearson as Jira in “A Twist  of Water” at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg

The scenic design, by Stephen Carmody, for “A Twist  of Water” is clever, making use of projections (by John Boesche with the assistance of Anna Henson) that help Noah as he unravels Chicago’s history of building and rebuilding. This reviewer’s fondness for architectural miniatures and models was particularly tickled by Carmody’s decorative diorama of the city. 

“A Twist  of Water” is a beautiful and gripping work.

For more information about the Chicago based theatrical group, Route 66, visit www.route66theatre.org 
For a schedule of performances, please visit www.59e59.org.