Actors Circle presents ‘The Cocktail Hour’

June 19th, 2015 9:20 am

First Posted: 9/8/2014

Alternating between funny and poignant, Actors Circle’s 33rd season opener, “The Cocktail Hour,” by A.R. Gurney, is sure to strike a chord with every audience member, no matter who they are and from where they come, according to director David Hunisch.

“Regardless of people’s backgrounds,” he said, “I think they’ll probably recognize things about their own family in the family on stage. They don’t necessarily have to be from a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant background, I think, to identify with the characters.”

The drama takes place in the mid-1970s when John, a playwright, returns to his family home in upstate New York with a play he wrote about the family, intending to obtain family members’ permission to produce it in the big city. Confrontations take place, martinis flow and it becomes evident John’s writing contains more truth than his family will admit.

“His family is a very upper crust WASP family,” said Hunisch. “Very conservative, and of course, when he tells them that this is going to be produced in New York, and it’s a very personal play, they don’t want their lives displayed on stage. So, it sets off all these fireworks. I think it’s a really good script. The dialogue is really witty, it moves along very quickly which, I think, especially for a modern audience, is a good thing.”

The Clarks Summit resident first became involved with the Scranton theater group when he acted in a play in the early 90s, but has been more active since 2003. In addition to acting in several Actors Circle plays, he directed two of the group’s previous productions: “The Ladies of the Camellias” and “Bell, Book and Candle.”

He said the best part about directing “The Cocktail Hour” is working with the cast, which is comprised of John Arena, Tom Malone, Patricia McAvoy and Carla Reck.

“Everybody is really right for their part,” the director said. “Everybody has brought a lot to their role. And they’ve also been collaborative in other aspects of the production, as well. It’s been a really easy cast to work with. Sometimes, especially in community theater, you deal with a lot of ego and things like that and we really haven’t had that on this show.”

Other staff members include Cathy Rist Strauch, producer and publicist; John Arena, set designer and master builder; Bob Spalletta, lighting design; George Conrad, stage manager; Jacob Conrad, sound and light board operator; board member Linda C. Griffiths, house manager; and vice president Jeff Ginsberg, house manager.

Other board members assisting with the refreshments and greeting are President John McInerney, Treasurer Jane Foy, Immediate Past President Nan Wandalowski, Founder Lou Bisignani, JP and Jeannine McGowan, Peter Cupple, Yolana Stern and Eileen Christian.

Show dates for “The Cocktail Hour” are Sept. 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20 and 21, at Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Road, Scranton. Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for seniors and $8 for students. Tickets for preview night, Sept. 11, are $8 for general admission and seniors and $6 for students.

Reservations can be made by calling 570-342-9707 or online at