The appeal of a romantic story is different for everyone. Gardner McKay’s award-winning play, “Sea Marks,” the story of a lone Irish fisherman and the romance that draws him away from all he knows, means something different to each of three Kansas City Actors Theatre company members who have been pivotal in bringing this Irish romantic comedy to Kansas City audiences.
The story takes place in 1958 and begins as Colm (Darren Kennedy), a fisherman from a remote Irish island, meets Timothea (Cinnamon Schultz) when she comes to the island for a wedding. He’s smitten, and he begins writing her letters. As they communicate by mail, she falls in love with him through his words and romance blooms, eventually drawing Colm to Liverpool, away from his island and everything he finds familiar.
Founding company member Gregg Markowski has been a fan of the play for a while, having been drawn in by the poetry of the play. Markowski has been instrumental to Kansas City Actors Theatre since its inception, and he’s been intimately involved many aspects of the operation. His interest in “Sea Marks” had a large part in the decision to add it to the 2017-2018 season. “I was drawn to the play because of the language that McKay uses to have Colm describe his life on the sea,” says Markowski. Much of the first part of the story is told in epistolary, as Colm writes in rich metaphor to Timothea about his life on the island. “I’m a sucker for Irish romanticism.”
Longtime Kansas City actor, company Artistic Committee member, and here first-time director on “Sea Marks,” Jan Rogge, was taken in by the setting and the rare innocence of a main character. “When I read it, I particularly enjoyed the fisherman aspect and how Colm is such a fish out of water,” says Rogge. “I just love the whole fact that he has no modernity about him and comes in with such an open heart.”
Colm’s background also brought a reminder of the years she’s spent going to the water.
“I lived in Milwaukee,” Rogge says, “but I went to Lake Michigan all the time to get away. I was captivated. All our vacations we would go to the water. Not to beaches; we’d go to the harbor or working villages. You know how some people have Disney, and no matter what, they have everything Disney? They vacation, they have dolls, t-shirts… I’ve always felt that way about the sea.”
Cinnamon Schultz, another well-known Kansas City actor and also a member of the company’s Artistic Committee, has been drawn to the work on the time period and the story’s personal reminders of the importance of companionship.
“I love time period-specific stuff,” says Schultz. “To me it tells me so much more if I can feed off of the time period and the surroundings.”
As she worked on the romance and relationship between Timothea and Colm, Schulz was surprised by a personal reminder about her own life.
“After being married for 20 years, I was reminded of how important it is to have a relationship,” Shultz says. “I don’t think about me, personally, being alone and how hard that can be. So that when you do find that companionship, especially one that seems to be working so well, you think how scary it would be to then have that possibly be taken away from you.”
Find out what this touching romantic story can mean to you when “Sea Marks,” by Gardner McKay, is presented at the H&R Block City Stage in Union Station from January 10 – 28th. Tickets and information are available at www.kcactors.org or by calling the Central Ticket Office at 816-235-6222.