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KALAMAZOO
By
May 7, 2017, 11:25
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Through May 27
KALAMAZOO The New Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater is often well-worked cliché.
“Kalamazoo” from Michelle Kholos Brooks and Kelly Younger is a wonderful example of theatrical opposites attracting.
Peg (Betsy Bittar) and Irving (Marc-Jon Filippone) are older and have lost their spouses after long and happy marriages.
They are part of a local spring theatrical trend to plays about death and fatal illness, including one about a widower and another about three widows.
Here, we have a widow and a widower.
Peg is an Irish Catholic widow and bird watcher, active in her church who has been persuaded by one of her daughters to get into on-line dating.
Irving is a well-traveled Jewish businessman persuaded by his son and his son’s husband to get into on-line dating.
The opening scene of the show is the two filling out their forms and recording the message which will be available on the dating service’s web site.
That shows how different they are, while being interested in escaping the confines after the death of a spouse.
Now, this may sound more than a little tragic.
It isn’t.
It’s those fumblings of someone in the dating world, confused by what the rules are in a world without rules and confused by the signals of their children.
The first date is in a Mexican restaurant and they get zonked on margaritas, while actually establishing a friendship.
You can see where this is going.
At least, you think you know where this is going.
That’s why this is an entertaining production, with a lot of humorous situations, so often making a point, a valid point about the later stages of life.
The two are very different, especially Peg who has been marooned in her Irish Catholic community and who doesn’t know much beyond her church and knows nothing about Jews.
It’s a diverse world.
A century ago when my Catholic grandmother married a vague Protestant, that was really unusual.
Now, it’s not that unusual.
Why won’t it be newly widowed grandparents?
“Kalamazoo” is funny and poignant and very well done.
Neither Bittar nor Filippone is very prominent on our more prominent local stages, but are around often enough to have proven their skills and they prove it again here.
Director Sheila McCarthy does a nice job on John Kehoe’s flexible and effective set.
“Kalamazoo” is very much worth seeing, whether the demographics of the characters are yours or your parents or your grandparents.
There are lessons about life and love.

A.W.

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