A chance meeting at an inn in northern California brings Doris, a stay-at-home mom, and George, an accountant and dedicated family man, together for one passionate night that turns into a 25-year affair in the romantic comedy, “Same Time Next Year,” at USCB Center for the Arts on February 21, 22 and 23.
George flies from New Jersey at the same time each year to meet with an old client and stays at the Sea Shadows Inn. Doris drives up from Oakland for a retreat with Catholic nuns on the same weekend each year. One year she stops at the inn for dinner and meets George in the restaurant. An evening of intimate conversation leads to an overnight tryst, which neither fully understands but both don’t want to end. They agree to meet at the same time and place next year.
Audience gets “snapshots” every five years
From that beginning, the audience is given “snapshots” of their weekend rendezvous every five years of their relationship from 1951 to 1975, when the play by Bernard Slade debuted on Broadway. That year it won the 1975 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. It ran for the next four years and was made into a movie in 1978.
Over the years, the characters’ growing emotional intimacy deepens their bond as much as their physical attraction, and they talk more about the changes in each other than what happens between the sheets. They support each other through their respective marital problems, career challenges and personal tragedies, while maintaining their no-strings-attached love affair.
“It is this combination of love, humor and support that I think rings true with audiences,” says play director Andrea Drake. “Over their 25 years together, there is much we all can relate to in what they are experiencing — it is the empathy of a caring relationship combined with the universal humor of everyday life.”
Like the year Doris shows up for their assignation pregnant with her fourth child, and George is anticipating that she will be able to help him with his impotence. Another year she has been attending Berkley and taken up the charge of women’s lib, which just about ruins that weekend when George admits he voted for Goldwater.
Christine Grefe as Doris
Doris is played by Christine Grefe, who saw the movie years ago and as a result, the role has been on her “bucket list” ever since. “We first see Doris as a very naïve but comfortable-in-her-own-skin woman,” says Christine. Over the 25 years she goes from an uneducated young wife and mother to an accomplished business woman. “She doesn’t get flustered like George. She just accepts the changing situations through the twists and turns of their relationship.”
Michael Weaver as George
Poor George — guilt-ridden with the reality of his betrayal, you think he will never be able to get it together, fighting his addiction to Doris at the same time he is reveling in his ecstasy.
“Doris is really the catalyst for his personal growth,” observes Michael Weaver, who plays George. “The play and their relationship is not so much about infidelity as it is about how the bond between a man and a woman can be a truly life-changing experience. It is an easy play to enjoy and even an easier story to understand.”
Both Michael and Christine are well-known in Bluffton and Hilton Head Island theater circles.
Michael is a veteran of drama, comedy and musical stage productions and feature films. After graduating from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he was drawn to acting and began building his acting resume while working in advertising in New York. An associate encouraged him to move to the Lowcountry and work with him in his advertising company, and he now has his own Strategic Services Consulting business in Hilton Head. He manages to make time to perform in two to three plays a year now.
Christine is currently directing the May River Playhouse production of “Dixie Swim Club,” opening on Feb. 14. She is also an attorney with the Beaufort County Solicitor’s Office so her schedule demands take on Herculean proportions.
“Everything that happens, happens for the audience and, for a director, this is quite a challenge,” observes the director Andrea. “We get to know the spouses we never meet because each year Doris and George tell each other one best thing and one worst thing about them.” She credits both her actors with the talent and sensitivity to make their characters their own.
Director Andrea Drake
Andrea is an accomplished actor with a background in community and regional theatre in New York. She has appeared in over 35 plays and since moving to the Lowcountry has continued to perform and direct. She is an educator by vocation with a Masters Degree in English from Stony Brook University in N.Y. “Being an English teacher has always influenced my acting and directing,” she says. “I love words and the power they have to convey emotion from the actor to the audience.”
Partnering with Tabby House
At each performance, the “Tabby House” adoption center for Beaufort County Shelter cats will be in the lobby of the theater to accept donations and talk about their successes in finding homes for 260 cats during their first year of operation.
Jessica Weiss, Tabby House manager, said the need is great for items on their “Wish List” and cash donations. She goes to the Beaufort County Shelter every week and selects the cats to bring to Tabby House to keep the population at around 25 cats. “The county helps us pay for food, medicine and utilities, but we really depend a lot on contributions and our wonderful, loving volunteers,” said Jessica. Attendees are encouraged to bring the following items to the theater to donate: Blue Dawn dish soap; Purina Naturals Cat Chow; 45 gallon garbage bags; hand sanitizers; paper towels and toilet paper; washable cat toys and beds; interactive cat toys; coupons for Purina Cat products. And there is always the welcomed cash or check donation, payable to Community Foundation of the Lowcountry and in the “for” line, Tabby House, and online at www.cf-lowcounty.org , click on “give” and “online” and scroll down to Tabby House. Tabby House is located in Beaufort Town Center on Boundary Street in the corner next to the bookstore.
USCB Center for the Arts for tickets
Curtain time for “Same Time Next Year” is 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased online at www.uscbcenterforthearts.com or call the box office at 843-521-4145. Adults are $22; Seniors $20; and Students $15, all seats reserved. Tickets are also available one hour prior to curtain. The theater is located at 805 Carteret Street.