Center Stage Theatre presents a clever family reunion with Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Erin Karll

  • Missouri Critic

This clever and funny story of family and acceptance is written by Christopher Duranc. We follow the family of brother “Vanya” (Paul James) and sister “Sonia” (Judy E Yordon) waiting for their other sister “Masha” (Tricia Wallace) in their family home. She is a famous actress coming back to town for a party with her new boyfriend “Spike” (Jake Baumgartner). Hilarity and drama ensue when old issues come to the surface. The siblings have a housekeeper “Cassandra” (Lauren Cole) who is clairvoyant and warns the family about danger and changes ahead. They also have a neighbor “Nina” (Becky Phillips) who guides everyone to be confident in their own skin. Another point of drama is seen when the conflicts between generations are explored. “Spike”, “Cassandra”, and “Nina” are all in their 20s and the siblings are around 50 or so.

The cast was wonderfully warm. It felt like I was looking into the ‘morning room’ of this family and involved in all the infighting and insecurities. Everyone stood out and has their moment to shine. James’ “Vanya” is a perfect bundle of nerves and brings an amazing vulnerability to the character. Yordon’ “Sonia” has some of the most powerful scenes. She goes from witty and sarcastic banter, to heartfelt confessions. It is an emotional roller coaster to watch.  Wallace’s “Masha” is a force to be reckoned with, a top notch diva. Baumgartner’s “Spike” is hilarious and definitely draws the audience’s attention with his energy.  Cole’s “Cassandra” uses physical comedy in just the right way to emphasize her character’s needs. Phillips’ “Nina” sweet disposition and charm smoothed the sharp edges and wits of the siblings.

This is a well-rounded production. Blending a beautiful set (Lonna Wilke, scenic and lighting design) and a strong cast lets the story flow clearly. Director Lynne Snyder made simple but powerful choices.

The charming tale explores the family dynamic and the separation between generations. I would recommend this show if you are looking for a funny, witty evening at the theatre. I laughed and connected with these characters. Mature topics are discussed so this show is not for children.

Performances run until November 20th  at the Donald D Shook Fine Arts Building Theater on St. Charles Community College campus. For ticket and show information check out or call 636-933 8050.