Monday, June 3, 2013
"THE BOYS NEXT DOOR" MAKE FOR INTERESTING NEIGHBORS
What do a giant cache of keys, a welcome mat, a sprig of spring flowers, a box of sprinkle topped donuts, a golf club, a dance lesson, a chocolate candy heart and a Spiderman tie all have in common? They are the prized possessions of "The Boys Next Door," the residents of a group home who are all mentally challenged, the creations of playwright Tom Griffin.
Weekends until June 15, the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin will open its doors and its heart to let you meet the mostly sweet, slightly confused, always well-meaning guys who live together in varying degrees of companionship.
An incredibly patient counselor and overseer Jack, played sensitively by Chris Brooks, looks after his charges with affection. He keeps a tight rein on Arnold, a nervous Nelly in the capable hands of Joe Autuoro, who exhibits obsessive-compulsive tendencies, especially at the local supermarket. Jack also encourages Lucien, an eager-to-please and learn Russel Fish, who is the proud possessor of a library card that he uses often and well.
For Barry, an emphatic James J. Moran, giving golf lessons for $1.73 is his pride and source of income, charging only a quarter for a little advice on the links. When Barry's dad (Gene Coppa) comes to visit after a nine year absence, the damaged chocolate heart he brings his son is indicative of their tenuous relationship.
Last, but certainly not least, is Norman, the keeper of the keys and the eater of the donuts, played by a gifted Bobby Schultz, who faces the ultimate dilemma when his new girlfriend, a caring and supportive Carleigh Schultz, covets Norman's prized keys as a sign of his affection.
Jack's boys are a challenge, from Arnold who threatens to move to Russia when he encounters a problem to Lucien who has to attend a Senate hearing to prove he is disabled. Karen Buck takes on multiple roles as neighbor and girlfriend. Under Kris McMurray's devoted direction, a visit to "The Boys Next Door" is both bittersweet and endearing.
For tickets ($30), call the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Remember to bring snacks to share at your table or plan to buy delicious desserts and drinks at the concession stand.
A special 25 minute musical entertainment, one night only, will usher in the next show "The Andrews Brothers" that opens on Friday, June 21. The show will run through July 27, weekends. Think about signing up for acting classes at the new studio right next door.
Be advised to bring your own donut treats to eat while watching these fellows at work and play. You'll laugh at their escapades while applauding their courage and ingenuity in tackling the problems of life.