Daydream Theatre Brings Hope, Love, and the Stars to West Warwick

Playwright Lenny Schwartz delves into a topic we don’t always like to face in America in his play, Our Distance Between Stars. What happens to those left behind in war? Schwartz has written a beautiful script that focuses on the greatest generation, and specifically the women of the Women Auxiliary Corps. It is touching, funny and leaves you thinking. It would be worth seeing based on the script alone; however, Schwartz has expertly paired his script with an ensemble of six strong performers, making the night one you don’t want to miss.

When you walk in the Playhouse, you can’t help but notice the comforts of home Daydream put forward, from the elegant marquee that brightens up Main Street to the vintage furniture and posters in the lobby. (Not to mention the free cookies! More on that later!) When you get to your seat, there’s another surprise; there’s a musician onstage with a guitar warming up the audience. Why have canned preshow music when you can have a live performer? This was also totally unexpected, but so wonderful to see — the blending of two artistic mediums. Paul Bettencourt’s talents set a lovely tone for the evening.

At the center of this play is Laurie Wilcox (Meg Taylor-Roth) who is brought to a USO dance by her best friend Florence (Candice Sampson). Florence unwillingly gets paired up to dance with Max (Chris Ferreria), who is more fumbles than suave.  Laurie meets John Tucker (Derek J. Colantuono) and it is love at first sight. In the few days before he ships out and she joins the Women Auxiliary Corps, the pair become inseparable. We see their letters back and forth. And then one day, the letters stop forcing Laurie to wonder if it was all in her head. Did he really love her, or did he use her? We forget that the Greatest Generation was comprised of young people. Kids in their late teens, early 20s, signing up for war before they experienced adult feelings. We play witness to Laurie’s inner struggle with her choices, and pining for a love she barely knew. At times her inner voices are downright frightening, and bring home a reminder to the audience that these wars are fought by young people who were still finding themselves and discovering the world around them.

The performances were simply wonderful. Taylor-Roth speaks in monologues that are letters to John throughout the show.  Her character runs the gamut of emotions, from that awkward first meeting to the feeling of total comfort. We feel each emotion of joy, longing and fear along with her, thanks to Taylor-Roth’s performance. Sampson played her best friend and was the absolute opposite (as best friends frequently are) and was funny, outlandish and loud. She provided the much-needed comedic relief, and did she relish in it. Their chemistry together was evident, and both of these actresses did a fantastic job.

Ferreira is one heck of a comedian. He’s very physical when needed, and has a commanding presence onstage. He was tremendously funny, and when he was paired with Sampson, you couldn’t help but think of some of the great sitcoms from the past — the Nortons from “The Honeymooners” kept coming to mind. At the end of the night, you can only hope that Schwartz will revisit Florence and Max again, or at the very least pair up these two performers once more.

Colantuono’s performance as John Tucker was everything you would want it to be. He was strong when he needed to be, vulnerable at times. When he talks of hope, you feel yourself hoping right along with him. He did a tremendous job with his role.

Denise Izzi plays “everyone else” and comes through the play in small but memorable roles thanks to Izzi’s impeccable timing.  Newcomer to the stage, Nicholas Delmenico does a lovely job as Harold, the grieving widower trying to move on with his life. 

Daydream Theatre has etched out a nice corner for themselves in West Warwick. Yes, West Warwick. Many of my friends from other parts of the state worry that West Warwick is out of the way, but it is in the center of the state and the work they are doing in the Arctic Playhouse is to be commended and experienced. They are turning this corner of Main Street into a hub of arts and creativity. And let’s not forget the free cookies. I always thought talk of the free cookies at Daydream was a joke, but it’s not, it’s just another part of Daydream’s charm. You walk into that lobby not as a faceless theater patron, but as a friend of the arts, and are treated as such.

You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t reserve tickets. This show is sure to sell out. They have put together a beautiful night of theater, one that you don’t want to miss.

Our Distance Between Stars runs October 15-24. Thursday-Saturdays at 8pm, and a Sunday matinee on the 24th at 3pm.  Tickets can be purchased at thearcticplayhouse.com.

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