In KCAT’s GRAND HORIZONS Life is the Joke

“People said, ‘Don’t write a play for older people, they won’t be able to do it, it’ll be a nightmare. I just hate hearing ‘don’t do something.’ That always makes me want to do it more.” – Bess Wohl, Playwright of “Grand Horizons”

On Monday evening, as Nancy and Bill’s 50-year marriage came tumbling down, there were tears of laughter, not sadness, at the first rehearsal of Kansas City Actors Theatre’s production of Grand Horizons. While some people may find the end of a long-lasting marriage depressing, the cast and director of Grand Horizons hope you can instead find a reason to laugh about it.

Bess Wohl’s Grand Horizons depicts the surprisingly amicable end of Nancy and Bill’s 50-year marriage, and the fallout it causes within their family and their retirement community. This provocative comedy looks at marriage and aging, as well as some insightful looks at comedy itself, love, and what it means to be a woman, a wife, and a mother.  

Peggy Friesen, who plays Nancy, hopes audiences will still be able to find the comedy of it all, “I wouldn’t stay married for 33 years without humor. No one likes getting older.” Peggy finds this play to be a rare instance on the stage to find the humor in aging. “There are too many sad stories about people aging. Which of course makes you think about dying. But getting old is not dying.” Director Dennis D. Hennessy echoes similar points following the first read-through, “Getting older is funny. A lot of people look at life as a tragedy with a little comedy, but it really is comedy with a little tragedy.”

Dennis believes the audience can find the levity in aging, while others can laugh at the universal themes. “All ages can relate to it. It has something for adults, children, and children of children.” Victor Raider-Wexler, who plays Bill, elaborates, “This is a comedy, but it’s not only about aging. Nancy and Bill are older, but the rest are not. It’s not just a comedy about aging, but about human relationships, love, commitment, fidelity, communication, and understanding.” Peggy agrees it isn’t only about getting old, “It’s hilarious. It says a lot of truths about family dynamics, and about women.”

With a crew of seasoned designers, a side-splitting Tony Award®-nominated script, and a director with more than one hundred productions under his belt, laughter will be guaranteed. Although Victor believes that laughter won’t be the only emotion the audience feels, “KCAT does plays that describe and touch on the human condition. What seems simple becomes powerful. [The audience] will laugh a lot, and cry a little too, because it is powerful. It relates to the self, not just a wonderful and funny story, but a powerful one.”The stars and director of Kansas City Actors Theatre’s Grand Horizons discuss the play, getting older, and laughing about it. Starting August 16 at the City Stage in Union Station.

Victor Raider-Wexler, Peggy Friesen, Craig Benton, Matt Leisy, Amy Attaway, Jan Rogge, and Tanner Rose star in KCAT’S funniest show of the season Grand Horizons. From August 16 to September 3 at the City Stage in Union Station. Visit www.kcactors.org/shows/grand-horizons/ or call (816) 361-5228 for tickets and more information.

KC Studio

KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

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