Chris Peterson / OnStage Editor in Chief One of my favorite movies is *batteries not included, the 1980's sci-fi drama about a group of apartment block tenants seeking the aid of alien mechanical life-forms to save their building from demolition. As a child, I loved it for the sci-fi elements but re-watching years later, I realized I loved it because of the performances of Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. While young love is exciting and strategic in its courtship, there is a sweet poignancy depicted in love between older people.
I thought of this while watching Eastbound Theatre's solid production of The Last Romance. This heartwarming, contemporary, romantic comedy by Joe DiPietro, directed by Nancy Herman, is one of the more pleasant surprises in the area this season.
While the story is somewhat basic, what makes The Last Romance so charming are the actors, many of whom are making their Eastbound Theatre debuts. Richard Yanowitz plays Ralph, a 80-year-old hopeless romantic who has been sitting in a dog park hoping to talk to a woman he had seen there a day before. Mr.Yanowitz hits all the right notes as a man who knows he's on the "back nine" and loved must come quickly. Playing the woman of Ralph's affection is Nancy Hammett as Carol. Ms. Hammett has a quiet elegance in portrayal of a woman who start off cold toward Ralph but warms up to him as the play moves along. In Act Two we see a full transformation of her character which Ms. Hammett pulls off nicely.
Andrea Garmun has had a string of wonderful performances in the area throughout the years, but this could be her best work I've seen her in. As Rose, Ralph's sister, Ms. Garmun runs the full gamut in her portrayal of a lonely woman waiting for her husband to come back to her....after 22 years. Her performance is both hilarious and utterly heartbreaking.
One of the biggest and best surprises for the audience in attendance, was the vocal performance of Kevin Miller. An opera singer, Mr. Miller has performed with the Opera du Perigord in the southwest of France, the Connecticut Lyric Opera. He is simply exquisite during the musical interludes between scenes and during some key moments throughout.
Nancy Herman's direction is well paced and staged for a piece that could easily become stagnant because for the most of the play, it's two people talking on a bench. Kevin Pelkey once again proves he's one of the best in the area with this "less is more" set design. He is aided by Rick Senft who painted flats to set the park scenes. Donald Rowe's lighting is excellent in setting the tone and Kevin Miller and Tom Rushen’s sound design is more than effective in its use.
The only downside to the evening were the noises coming from construction work on the train tracks, but even that couldn't derail(puns!) this performance. I highly recommend this piece for both the young and old lovers out there.
The show runs thru Feb 22. For tickets and info visit milfordarts.org/eastbound-theatre