by Nancy Holley
Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.
Family relationships are complicated. The storyline of Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons, which opens Friday, March 2, at the Ice House Theatre in Visalia, is no exception. Director Peg Collins identifies the play as “a deeply compassionate and touching look at the transformative nature of forgiveness and the evolving definition of family.”
Katharine Gerard’s (Debra Hansen) son Andre did not fulfill her hopes and dreams. He did not provide her with the love she had been seeking. His life was everything she found appalling, and she didn’t hesitate letting him know her feelings. Result? Andre left home immediately after high school, and she never saw him again.
Cal Porter (Christopher Volkerts) was Andre’s lover, who nursed him through AIDS and death. After several years of mourning, he married Will Ogden and adopted Will’s son, Bud. Cal loved Andre and still honors his memory, but he has moved on. When he discovered a diary of Andre’s, he sent it to Andre’s mother – never imagining the result that action would have.
“Receiving the diary and reading her son’s secrets including his feelings about her, brings the grudge she has been holding for twenty years to the surface, and she wants revenge,” noted Debra Hansen who portrays Katharine. Hansen continued, “Katharine is a very conflicted person. She makes a mistake a lot of parents do. You cannot expect your children to fulfill your expectations for happiness and the future.”
Katherine arrives at Cal’s home unexpectedly. She anticipates finding a man broken by her son’s death, but instead finds a loving and happy family. Travis Hauert, as Will Ogden, identifies his character as “the moment of grounding, truth, and reality. I’m in the present while the others are reliving the past.”
“Bud is the happiest person on the stage,” quips Luciano Noguera. “He is equally close to both of them [Will and Cal]. He loves them both the same, but he does wonder why he has two dads.”
Both Noguera and Hauert are newcomers to the Ice House Theatre and the Visalia Players. When asked about his interest in the play, Hauert expressed enthusiasm, “I love the story. It is a coming of age story about a family. My character is the glue.”
Noguera was equally enthusiastic, “This is my first show at the Ice House, and I’m excited to be here. I like the stage and the small size of the theatre. All the people can see everything. I like that.” Noguera has been in plays at TCOE, the Enchanted Playhouse, and the Encore Theatre in Tulare.
Regular Ice House patrons will remember Hansen’s excellent portrayal as E. M. Ashford in the 2016-17 Visalia Players’ production of Wit. Volkerts won a Players’ Lizzie for his portrayal of Adam in Next Fall the 2015-16 season and had the role of Emcee in this season’s production of Cabaret.
Regarding the play and its message, Collins noted, “Theatre is a platform to push for meaningful social changes as well as entertainment. I love directing plays that, after seeing a performance, encourage dialogue.”
Mothers and Sons opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 2, 2018, and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 3/2, 3/3, 3/9, 3/10, 3/16, and 3/17, and matinees at 2 p.m. on 3/4, 3/11, and 3/18.
The Players are grateful to Season Sponsors: Family Healthcare Network, Graham & Associates, Lansdowne, Inc., and Martin Enterprises.
For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
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To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLMAS in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.