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“Watching Wynter” For the Holidays at B Street Theatre

Photos by Barry Wisdom

“Watching Wynter” is the title of this season’s B Street Theater mainstage production for the holidays. As always, the play is written and directed by B Street producing artistic director Buck Busfield.

While Busfield’s shows have some sort of connection to the holidays, however tenuous, with this show the connection is even more minimal than past shows. This year’s production is about how family members relate to each other and to those around them, and how the holiday season can impact those relationships, making them more than a little crazy. As a playwright, Busfield is a master at making family craziness very funny.

At the center of the play are Lonny, an only child, and his mom in their Milwaukee, Wis. home. Lonny is long past when he should be living on his own and earning his own living. He plays video games day and night, only reads books on gaming strategy and tries his best to keep the outside world at bay. That outside world includes his mother. A few other serious issues complicate Lonny’s life as well.

His mom, a widow, tries her best to get through to Lonny and encourage him to get work and find a girlfriend. She rings true when she says she does this for him. She crosses more than a couple of lines in her quest to see that her son has the life she thinks he should.

Of course, she has issues of her own – like maybe her late husband wasn’t as great as she makes him out to be – and that there is a reason for what she believes is her poor health. Overall though, her life is centered around Lonny and his well-being.

In an apartment across the alley lives Wynter of the title. She is a young woman that works as a home healthcare nurse. We soon learn that she is just a quirky as Lonny, just in some different ways.

Next door to Wynter live Mr. and Mrs. Maccini and his elderly mother. A fun plot twist gets them involved in the lives of their neighbors.

Multi-talented David Pierini, who just completed his role in “God of Carnage” at B Street, plays Lonny. While the character is more than a little creepy, Pierini’s portrayal of Lonny allows the audience to see the humanity and humanness in Lonny and be able to relate to him.

David Pierini as Lonny

Opposite Pierini is Los Angeles based actor Jayne Taini who is amazing as “Mom.” She is so funny as the devout Catholic mother who ignores all no’s – whether from her son, the young lady next door or anyone else she comes in contact with. Taini’s portrayal of mom is like a tornado that has blown into the family living room sweeping everything up in her path.

Jayne Taini as Mom, David Pierini as Lonny

New York based actor Dana Brooke, who has appeared in several B Street shows including the recently closed “God of Carnage” opposite David Pierini, plays Wynter. Brooke also appeared as the equally strange Kellin Delahanty opposite Kurt Johnson’s DQ in last season’s holiday production, “Northport Cottage.” Her portrayal brings a definite believability to the strange Wynter.

Dana Brooke as Wynter, Jayne Taini as Mom, David Pierini as Lonny

Mr. and Mrs. Maccini are played by B Street Company members Kurt Johnson and Jamie Jones. Both are also well known from performances on several other Sacramento stages as well as their work in other dramatic arts media. They are a hoot as the “hot to trot” Maccinis. It takes little to send them off to their unseen apartment bedroom.

Scenic designer Steven Schmidt created a multi-level set that, with the help of Ron Madonia’s lighting, allows a look into each of the three residents’ lives. The set has a believable feel as rooms in an older section of Milwaukee.

Costumes by Paulette Sand-Gilbert, another B Street regular, enhance each character’s identity.

Incidental music is by Noah Agruss who has composed music for many B Street shows and numerous films.

In his program notes, Buck Busfield talks about what compels him to write about the characters he does while at the same time keeping in mind the wonderful actors he has to work with him.

“It can be fun for an actor to play someone quirky and strange, but instilling the character with honesty and depth presents a real challenge.”

Like previous holiday productions, Busfield as a playwright and director and his cast succeed in meeting the challenge. The winners are the B Street audience who get a lot to laugh about along with some things to reflect on during this holiday season.  

“Watching Wynter” B Street Theatre Mainstage
Through December 31, 2011 More Information and Tickets

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