Butterflies Are Free Is a Blast from the Past

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Arctic Playhouse’s newest production is a blast from the past! Butterflies Are Free by Leonard Gershe was written almost 50 years ago, but some of the themes still ring true today.  

The production is directed by Tony Annicone, and marks the 124th show Tony has directed. This true Rhode Island theater veteran compiled a fantastic cast to bring this script to life.

For those of you unfamiliar with the script, Butterflies Are Free is about Don Baker (Christian O’Brien) who happens to be blind, living on his own for the first time, much to the chagrin of his mother (Denise Izzi). We learn through his one-sided phone conversation with her that she is very concerned (to the point of being overbearing), when his neighbor Jill Tanner (Sarah Reed), a free-spirited hippie, comes into his apartment and his life. What follows is a light-hearted coming-of-age comedy that has some touching moments.

Annicone has a trained eye for talent, but the one who steals this show is without a doubt Sarah Reed as Jill, the energetic hippie next door.  Reed takes a part that can be misrepresented due to the fact that the dialogue comes from a different time with different sensibilities and makes Jill a dynamic character you can’t take your eyes off of. Her stage presence fills the entire room. O’Brien delivers a solid performance that pairs Reed’s perfectly. Their chemistry onstage was spot-on. Baker delivers as always, and Chris Pelliter (who plays Ralph Austin, an unannounced guest to this story) was both funny and necessarily skeezy.

Kudos to Annicone and his team for taking this script and breathing some life into it. Occasionally shows like this become forgotten, but they have proven that you can take an older script, present it as intended, and have an enjoyable night of theater (with, of course, free cookies and popcorn)!

Butterflies are Free ran thru June 24 at The Arctic Playhouse,.117 Washington St, West Warwick. 

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