Alone Together

By Lawrence Roman


Directed by Karin Cunningham
February 11 to 27, 2011


Read the Reviews:
Waukesha Freeman, Shepherd Express,
WaukeshaNOW, WaukeshaNOW - Commentary

Photos:
Click on a photo to see a larger image

Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Judy Nelson
Cast 

Dan Hargarten

George

Donna Daniels    

Helene

Sean Duncan

Michael

Eric Eggers

Elliott

Harry Brammer

Keith

Jenny Kosek

Janie

Production Staff 

Director

Karin Cunningham

Stage Manager

Donna Redmer

Scenic Designer/Master Carpenter

Michael Talaska

Costume Designer

Sallie Burkard & Sharon Sohner

Lighting Designer

Thomas Moore

Sound Designer

John Santroch

Properties Designer

Michelle Tiarks & Monica Santroch

'Alone Together' explores adult children returning home

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
February 17, 2011

An outstanding cast treats us to a hilarious and thought-provoking rendering of "Alone Together" at the Waukesha Civic Theatre.

Written by Lawrence Roman, the situation involves family and the enigma of close relationships. The departure of Keith, the last of George and Helene's three sons, is cause for rejoicing in their new-found freedom as their "baby" drives off from his comfortable home in West Los Angeles to a college in Seattle.

This middle-aged couple can now spend more time with each other, travel to places they always dreamed of exploring and pursue hobbies they've abandoned in order to make their children their top priority. It's a heady experience for most empty-nesters, but also one with its challenges.

It's somewhat akin to retirement, something most people look forward to, and all at once they are faced with fashioning a new life for themselves. Now what?

When the children leave home, the parents are not only dealing with the changing landscape, but often issues within their marriage arise, issues that have perhaps been masked or avoided when child rearing and financial issues took center stage. Throw in a third factor - the boomerang effect, adult children returning home - and you have the gist of this play.

Parents are often conflicted when it comes to child-rearing practices, especially with adult children. How much help is too much? When does protection become pampering? Does a parent have a right to his/her own life apart from them? Are parents responsible for all the mistakes their children make? Some parents will attest to the fact that the woes of parenting often outweigh the joys, but despite all reports, many couples, or even singles in this day and age, choose to add to the population.

George and Helene Butler are impeccably created by Dan Hargarten and Donna Daniels. They make us feel their tension, frustration, bewilderment and the strength of their love for each other. They are good but imperfect people who have done their best, but that doesn't feel like it's enough.

Michael (Sean Duncan) is a good fit as the bumbling genius, Elliot (Eric Eggers) is convincing as the self-absorbed womanizer and Keith (Harry Brammer) pulls off the independent-dependent last child with aplomb. All of the parents in the audience could relate to the love-hate feelings one's children can arouse.

The lovable intruder Janie, with her strange mix of naivete and street smarts, was charmingly delineated by Jenny Kosek. She became the unexpected voice of reason in the midst of chaos, which just proves that first impressions are not always reliable.

Karin Cunningham, who is a frequent actor on the Waukesha Civic Theatre stage, displays her directorial abilities in this production. She helps the acting ensemble and the audience understand and sympathize with the ambivalence each character is experiencing.

Michael Talaska designed a very flexible set, and Sallie Burkard's costume selections befitted the 1970s. You'll love this rich offering.

Laughs Fill the Empty Nest at Waukesha Civic Theatre

By STEVE SPICE
Posted: February 16, 2011

The Waukesha Civic Theatre’s engaging offering Alone Together hits just the right warmhearted tone for a chilly winter evening. It’s as smoothly palatable as the champagne frequently imbibed onstage. The story deals with a couple who can’t seem to keep the empty nest empty enough to suit them as they approach their middle years.

Their three grown sons keep moving in with annoying regularity. Michael, winningly played by Sean Duncan, leaves his university scholarship position to perform disruptive scientific experiments in his old room. He is followed by Elliott, whose philandering ways are breaking up his marriage. He seems interested only in seducing Janie, who is inexplicably occupying the room of the youngest son, Keith.

While this may seem like typical community theater situational comedy froth, Lawrence Roman’s sparkling dialogue keeps the story line afloat to the audience’s delight, never allowing the subject matter to hit what often passes for last-minute hints of "reflective profundity." The cast rarely falters in their efforts to keep things moving along. Special credit goes to Donna Daniels as Helene, the mother, whose looks of banked frustration are appropriately telling. Dan Hargarten as her husband, George, and Duncan as Michael the nerdy oldest son find a sophisticated balance between comedy and conflict in a well-executed finale that steers clear of bathos. The young Harry Brammer as Keith, Eric Eggers as the horny Elliott and Jenny Kosek as the sexy "roommate" round out the cast.

Boomerang kids cause chaos in WCT comedy

By Marilyn Jozwik - WaukeshaNOW Theater Critic
February 17, 2011

In "Alone Together," Waukesha Civic Theatre's latest offering, Californians Helene and George Butler (Donna Daniels and Dan Hargarten) have just seen their third and youngest child, Keith (Harry Brammer), leave the nest as he heads off to college in another state.

Sons Michael (Sean Duncan) and Elliott (Eric Eggers) are also miles away and Helene and George waste no time in planning their new life, sans children.

George is so happy about this new chapter in his life that he draws a map with pegs in Texas, New England and Washington State, indicating the distance between parents and children for a visual exclamation point to the couple's new course in life.

He's also gathered some delightful cheeses and a couple bottles of wines for a romantic evening to celebrate.

But before you can say "pop the Pinot Grigio," Michael, who is stressed out about his MIT teaching position, returns home. Hot on his heels is Elliott, whose skirt-chasing has gotten him bounced out of his Texas home and marriage and back into his parents' home in Los Angeles.

Knowing that his room at home is available while he's at school, Keith offers it to a female friend, Janie (Jenny Kosek), so the once-quiet household is again filled to capacity and filled with chaos.

The comedy, set in the '70s, drew lots of laughs on opening night and still resonates with audiences. Parents of adult children can relate to George as he's all set to give Michael some tough parting words, only to be dissuaded by his genius son's ironclad debate skills tempered with a guilt trip. Moms will feel Helene's tug of heart as she looks forward to the quiet days ahead and returning to her art hobby, yet feels the loss of her days of mothering.

And adult children may no doubt see themselves when they've returned to their parents in times of trouble.

Daniels and Hargarten are nicely paired as the exasperated couple weathering the temporary storm of their sons' return. Both keep up a high energy performance and get plenty of mileage out of author Lawrence Roman's laugh lines.

Sean Duncan, who played Conrad Birdie in last season's "Bye, Bye Birdie," does a nice job with his Michael character, giving him a harried, absent-minded professor presence, to go along with his sharp analytical mind. He moves about slightly stooped, wringing his hands, concentrating on his next experiment or complicated math problem. He's always ready for a good argument and has answers for everything.

By contrast, Eggers' Elliott character is ramrod straight, cocky and sweet talking, though it's hard to understand that after just a brief stint in Texas he sounds like George W. Bush and wears bolo ties. Kosek's Janie, the flower child who's hopped on the celibacy bandwagon, is great fun to watch. Her conversation with Helene while the family is preparing for a party is one of the highlights of the evening (along with George's talk to Michael that finally hits the mark). Her wide eyes seem to view the world with childlike wonder.

Brammer, though his time on stage is brief, is very natural and appealing as the Butlers' youngest son, Keith.

As a bit of a warning, there is some sexual innuendo and even a few F-bombs dropped in the show.

Scenic designer and master carpenter Michael Talaska has washed the walls in a bright shade of gold that was popular at the time, and furnishings keep the warm tones as do the actors outfits, for the most part. Sallie Burkard handled the costume design.

Director Karin Cunningham elicited taut performances from all and kept quick, nearly imperceptible scene changes and steady pacing.

'Alone Together' - my perspective

By Catherine Jozwik - Special To WaukeshaNOW
February 17, 2011

The Waukesha Civic Theater was packed for the opening night performance of Lawrence Roman's '70s comedy "Alone Together." At age 29, I was probably one of the youngest persons among lots of parents and probably grandparents in the audience, and the play was penned before I was even born, but that didn't stop me from laughing as hard as everyone else.

Like the Butler children, I've come home many times - to stay for awhile when I was broke and between jobs, to raid my parents' fridge and get my laundry done, and above all, to feel the love and reassurance that only Mom and Dad can provide.

The cast of "Alone Together," especially the parents, were talented actors who delivered their lines with nearly impeccable comedic timing. Everything felt natural - the fighting between George (Dan Hargarten) and Helene (Donna Daniels) Butler, the way their genius but socially inept son Michael (Sean Duncan) tried to win an argument with his frustrated father by using logic as if it were a tool for solving a math equation, and the small but incredibly effective use of gestures, such as Elliott's (Eric Eggers) randy swagger and Helene's constant eye rolling. Several times, I heard audience members voicing their support of the Butler parents under their breath, and when I looked at my mother sitting next to me, I can bet she was thinking about me and my brother and sympathizing with the Butlers.

When Helene was moaning to George that they hadn't been really alone for 30 years - 30 years! - I shook my head in wonderment, incredulous that anyone would ever take on such a daunting task as parenthood. I think for my parents' next anniversary, I'll see what I can do about booking them a vacation at an exquisite spa resort.

Of course, I'll have to pay them back.

Volunteer of the Production - Judy Nelson

Judy is a new volunteer for WCT, but we hope she keeps coming back as often as she can. Everyone involved in this production was very impressed with her level of participation. She always gave positive energy, had incredible enthusiasm, and was extremely fun to work with. One of her peers said "Judy is a great addition to our WCT family." Congratulations, Judy. We look forward to many more shared experiences.