Warmth, humor and family dynamics take center stage in Steel Beam Theatre's production of "Making God Laugh, which opens Friday, Oct. 13, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 5, in St. Charles.
The play's title is based on a Woody Allen quote: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."
"Making God Laugh"When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28 and Nov. 3, 4; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, 22, 29 and Nov. 5
Where: Steel Beam Theatre, 111 Main St., St. Charles
Details: www.SteelBeemTheatre.org or (630) 587-8521
The show follows a family of grown children and their parents through 30 years of family gatherings.
"At the beginning of the play the children are out of the house, in their early twenties and the parents are empty nesters; then it goes 10 years each scene so we see the family over 30 years," said director Richard Pahl of Elgin.
The play, written by Sean Grennan, presents touchstones most families will recognize.
"I first saw it in 2012 and I instantly fell in love with it," said Jocelyn Adamski of Lombard, who plays Maddie, the middle child. "The writing is beautiful. Sean Grennan has written a new, American classic. He's written it in a style that really is not done anymore. It's just a family story in a family living room and about family dynamic."
"It has been reminding me of 'This is Us' (a popular television drama) because you see the same characters through the decades," Pahl said. "Still, the same kinds of things the show deals with: in some cases, going through a lot of emotional upheavals, working out a lot of upset with one another."
Although the subject matter sounds heavy, not all the material is dramatic, according to Pahl.
"It's a wonderful blend of hilarious comedy and drama," he said.
"It's poignant -- it has a lot of dramatic scenes -- but also, it's funny and I think people will be able to identify their own family dynamics because all of the scenes in the show take place over the family gatherings together for the holidays," Adamski added. "Maybe there's a specific family member you might not be particularly fond of, having to eat a family dish you don't particularly care for, the tradition you might find grating."
Although the characters age 30 years in the production, the actors don't rely on makeup or costuming to represent the aging process.
"We try to do more with character choices and language, the way we speak and our relationship, how that changes over the course of the 30 years," Adamski explained.
"You think about how you might walk differently and speak differently, your attitude about things change over time."
The recently retired Pahl noted that "Making God Laugh" will appeal to a variety of theatergoers for a number of reasons.
"If you like a few laughs you should definitely come," he said. "If you like some drama you should definitely come and if you want to open up some dialogue with family and friends, this will also stimulate that."
"This show has some beautiful themes that resonate very deeply and I think resonate for a lot of people," Adamski added. "It's the theme (of) how family dynamics can shape us over the years; how family and societal expectation can hold us back and ultimately how love and acceptance from our family can liberate us."
Other cast members include Tom Hussey of Arlington Heights, Peter Surma of Aurora, Shannon Mayhall of Cary, and Sean Alyn Young of Pontiac, Illinois.
Tickets are $28-45; the theater is at 111 Main St., St. Charles. Visit www.steelbeamtheatre.org/.