West Windsor, N.J. – Set against an idyllic lakeside backdrop, the drama of the real world is never far from view as eight friends gather over three summer weekends in “Love! Valor! Compassion!” Presented by PinnWorth Productions, this Tony Award-winning play by Terrence McNally comes to Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre Fridays, Jan. 10 and 17 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Jan. 11 and 18 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, Jan. 12 and 19 at 2 p.m.
Kelsey Theatre is located on the college’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. A reception with the cast and crew follows the opening night performance on Jan. 10.
Theater goers are invited into the lives of a special group of friends as they celebrate Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day at the vacation home of Gregory, an aging Broadway choreographer, and his twenty-something lover, Bobby. Their guests include Arthur and Perry, an affectionate professional couple of long standing; the irresistible dancer Ramon; a soured ex-patriot Brit, John Jeckyll; his gentle twin brother, James; and Buzz, a costume designer and maniacal lover of musical theater. Flirtations and skinny-dipping combine with soul-searching, truth-telling, and monumental questions about life and death in the era of AIDS. At turns poignant and hilarious, the action culminates in a wacky dress rehearsal for Swan Lake performed in tutus.
According to the show’s director, Lou Stalsworth, the show is all too often depicted as a play about gay men coping with the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. “What that doesn't address is the play’s general tone, which is often breath-taking funny, always spot-on, and probably the best since ‘Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’” he observes.
Stalsworth notes that the show’s title beautifully sums up the theme and context of the material. “These are human emotions on display. Love and the pain of love gone bad knows no gender. Nor does the ability to forgive and start anew,” he says. “These characters speak with an honesty and frankness seldom seen on stage.”