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THEATER REVIEW

Stiller: Fest a class act with 'Reunion' theme

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The theme for Heartland Theatre's 10-Minute Play Festival is "Class Reunion," which can either bring back memories of glory days or remind you of things you've been in therapy to forget!

The spectrum is explored through nine clever plays that pack an awful lot into just a handful of pages.

In "The Song We Shared" (Jimmy Holder, Milledgeville, Ga.), we witness that awkward high school moment when the socially clumsy girl finally finds the courage to confess her attraction to the shy guy who frequently sits alone listening to music. This entry features Anne Tobin and Joseph Johnson, who are refreshingly natural in their roles.

"Devereaux Redux" (Tim West, San Diego) features Todd Wineburner as an unforgiving taskmaster who is visited by a former student he barely remembers. The student (Bruce Clark) has a few things to say to the man who so significantly impacted his life. It's insightfully directed by Julie Kistler.

Have you ever wondered what Superman and Wonder Woman were like in high school? Candace Perry of Wellfleet Mass. has, and she offers her thoughts in her submission, "A Super Reunion." Dave Lemmon and Gayle Hess are delightful as the aging heroes.

"Old Flames" tackles unrequited lovevia Mary, a good Catholic girl who followed all the rules and missed all the fun. Will her class reunion bring her a second chance at love? This charming entry features Carrie Verner, Melissa James-Shrader and Nathan Bottorff on the night I attended. Alternate performances will feature Verner, Carolyn Stucky and John D. Poling.

"Happy Hour" (Deborah Duane, Milburn, N.J.) takes us back to parochial school and the last-minute change in reunion plans made necessary by the sudden passing of Sister Mary Bernadette. This charmer features Carol Scott (a haunting performance), Gayle Hess and Michelle Woody. 

In "Bittersweet Samba" (Sean Crawford, Waltham, Mass.), Bruce Clark plays a man desperate to crash the reunion of the girl of his dreams, who was two classes ahead of him. Will true love triumph? It features Bruce Clark and Nathan Bottorff (Clark and J. Michael Grey in alternate performances). 

"Auld Lang Syne" (Dan Borengasser, Springdale, Ark.) explores a simmering love triangle at the 50th class reunion of Liz (Norma Oberhoeltzer) and her would-be suitors (Larry Eggan, Chuck Pettigrew). Who will finally win her heart? 

"Validation" (Robin Pond, Toronto, Canada) looks at the destructive nature of unresolved high school jealousies via a wealthy man (Dave Lemmons) who is still the insecure oddball who challenges his former classmates. Also featuring Wes Melton, Melissa James-Shrader and Carolyn Stucky.

The evening closes with "It's Been Years" (Scott Tobin, Waltham, Mass.), which sheds a little light on obsession. John D. Poling plays a man who knows a bit too much about a former classmate (aptly creeped-out Michelle Woody), thanks to social media. 

Stiller is a freelance writer who reviews plays for The Pantagraph.

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