Rehearsals are well under way for the Prospect Playhouse’s latest production, “Duets.” Written by Peter Quilter, the author of the West End, London, hit “Glorious,” the romantic comedy is sure to delight Cayman audiences when it opens on April 16.
“Duets” is produced by Sheree Ebanks, current chairperson of the Cayman Drama Society, and directed by Paul Njoka, who made his directorial debut with a Neil Simon play, “Rumors,” which proved to be hugely popular with Cayman audiences in 2012.
The play features a talented cast, led by Martin Tedd, who recently performed in “Woman In Black.” Cayman Drama Society regulars Peter Kosa, Soraya Moghadass, Gabrielle Wheaton, Michael McLaughlin and Juliet Fenn return to the stage, while newcomer Emma Brady rounds out the troupe.
“Duets” comprises four one-act plays with four sets of characters in four crucial moments of their lives; each act deconstructs situations in which love is expressed.
According to descriptions from play agent Samuel French-London, in “Blind Date,” Jonathan and Wendy are on a blind date hoping to get it right this time, even though they have never gotten it right before. In “Secretarial Skills,” Barrie really isn’t interested in women, but Janet sees that as no reason to stop trying to win him over.
Shelly and Bobby have decided to vacation in Spain to finalize their divorce while drowning in cocktails in “The Holiday.” In the farcical fourth act, “Bride-to-Be,” Angela is marrying for the third time to the dismay of her brother Toby amid a barrage of bad omens and a dress that resembles a parachute.
A review in the Sydney Morning Herald described the play this way: “The bittersweet quick-change comedy is streaked with pathos and is effortlessly charming, with each character sketched with verve and skill.”
Both Ebanks and Njoka have been involved with the theater for many years. Ebanks’s first production was in 1977 when she helped backstage with “Ten Little Indians.” Almost 30 years later, it was staged with a new title: “And Then There Were None.”
Her backstage roles have included stage manager, props manager and lighting board operator; she also directed “Little Shop of Horrors” in 2010, and more recently, produced “Jekyll and Hyde (The Musical).”
Njoka’s foray into theater came about by chance while he was studying electrical engineering at the University of Nairobi in Kenya.
“I was walking, heading home from college one weekend, and a friend of mine asked me to escort her to an audition for a musical she wanted to be in. I entered the building with no intention of auditioning myself because I wasn’t a ‘theater guy.’
“Getting past my stereotypical presumptions, the stage manager convinced me of the inconsequential nature of my audition. If I didn’t get a part, my life would continue unaltered.
“Needless to say, I got a part and continued to work part-time at Phoenix Players, East Africa’s only rep theater, for over four-and-a-half years. I spent an average of 250 days a year in the building participating in 45 plays and directing six. I count those years, under the tutelage of my mentor James Falkland, as some of the most life-changing times of my life and clearly define who I am as a person today.”
Njoka thinks Cayman audiences will enjoy “Duets” for a number of reasons.
“The underlying theme in ‘Duets’ resonates across the globe. The diverse countries that have staged the play from Australia to Lithuania to Italy are indicative of the broad appeal the play has been able to muster. That theme is love, how we express it, how we share it, how we nurture it, and what we do when it fades away,” he says.
His first reading of “Duets” didn’t impress him, but the more times he picked up the script, the more he noticed nuances that made real-life experiences stand out from the realm of a comedic piece.
“I think Cayman audiences will not only appreciate the subtle comedy, but they’ll empathize with the characters in a way most other comedies fail to do,” he says.
Duets runs from April 16 to May 2, Thursdays through Saturdays. Tickets are $25. Call the box office at 938-1998 or buy online at www.cds.ky.