Coach House Theatre opened its 2013-14 season with "Grace and Glorie" Sept. 26.
The two-person show, which was featured last year as one in a series of free readings at the theater, makes for a strong start for the season. The two actresses, Maureen Estelle Guerin-Johnson and Holly Humes, bring a lot of warmth and personality to their characters, and the play will leave the audience chuckling and misty-eyed by turns.
Humes plays Gloria, a big city transplant who has moved to Virginia with her husband. She volunteers at a hospice center to pass the time and to work her way through a personal tragedy. Her previous experience with hospice patients does not leave her prepared to deal with Grace (Guerin-Johnson), who, despite her years and suffering from late-stage cancer, is still feisty and likes her independence. Gloria was sent to help Grace through her final weeks, but both women wind up helping and healing each other.
There are a lot of funny moments in the show (I don't think you'll ever see so much happiness extended toward finding a toaster, for example), but some of the best moments are when both women realize that despite their different backgrounds, they have more in common than they thought.
Guerin-Johnson said her character "has a lot of spirit and spunk."
"She knows death is coming, but she faces it," Guerin-Johnson said. "Gloria learns from Grace, and Grace learns from Gloria."
Humes said she really liked how her character changes as the play progresses.
"She really comes into her own, because she has this wonderful old lady to learn from," Humes said. "I love Grace, and I love Maureen."
The audience on Sept. 28 seemed to enjoy the show as well.
"It was very well acted and very sincere," said Diana Gayer of Akron. "It was from the heart. The actors really took on the personals of the people they were portraying. It was well done."
Ticket and show information
"Grace and Glorie" can be seen through Oct. 13. Curtain times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Dinner or brunch is available to all theatre patrons prior to every performance, at the Akron Woman's City Club next door (reservations are required.)
Group rates are available for groups of 12 or more. Tickets are $15 on Thursdays, $20 on other nights. Students are $12 for all shows.
For details, contact the box office at 330-434-7741, or visit www.coachhousetheatre.com.
Coach House Theatre is at 732 West Exchange St. in Akron, next to the Akron Woman's City Club, and at the corner of West Exchange and North Portage Path.
Next on stage
Coach House will next produce "On Golden Pond," which runs Nov. 21 through Dec. 15.
The Akron theater also will sponsor "A Trivial Evening" for trivia buffs on Nov. 15 starting at 7 p.m. Coach House actors will ask competitors trivia questions during the contest at the Akron Women's City Club, near the theater. Tickets for competitors is $35, and $30 for spectators. The evening will include light refreshments and a cash bar. Proceeds benefit the theater's capital campaign. Tickets may be purchased at the box office, or by calling Jane Bond at 330-869-0114.