by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS
Next up at Olympia Little Theatre is the comedy with a message, Butterflies are Free, by Leonard Gershe, winner of two Tony Awards.
Unusual for any play, this one has two directors: Barb Matthews and Allison Gerst.
Gerst says. “Many times we casually said, ‘We work well together, maybe we should direct a play sometime.’ Well, she came up with Butterflies are Free. The small cast and relatively small scene changes made it seem manageable. She said, ‘Will you do it as co-directors?’ I said yes, and here we are.”
Matthews will direct the actors and action, and Gerst will direct the blocking, “which is very specific,” Matthews says, “due to one of the characters being blind.”
It is 1969. Don Baker (Conner Nuckols) has just moved into his very first apartment in Manhattan and met his new neighbor, Jill (Ashley Thomas), a free-spirited, wannabe actress. Don has been blind from birth. Nevertheless, he is sure he can learn to live independently — with a little help from Jill. But then his mother (Neicie Packer) shows up and wants him to come home. Also appearing is Phil Folan as Ralph Austin, Jill’s new boyfriend.
“Don doesn’t believe (being blind) should stop him from making his own choices,” Gerst explains. But his mother has other ideas. “His mother loves him deeply, but has trouble accepting this bid for freedom.”
Matthews says, “About two years ago I asked Kathryn Beale, ‘How do you pick the right play?’ She told me, ‘Choose one you can’t stop thinking about.’ I thought about it and Butterflies are Free is one of those stories that has remained a favorite of mine since I first saw the movie in 1971.”
OLT’s Butterflies are Free should prove to be a fun and heartwarming experience.
WHAT Butterflies Are Free
Olympia Little Theatre, 612 4th Ave. E, Olympia
7:25 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 1:55 p.m. Sunday, March 9-25
$11-$15, $2 student discount, available at Yenney Music, 2703 Capital Mall Dr.
360.786.9484 | Olympia Little Theatre