Curmudgeons with character Public Theatre presents ‘Month of Sundays,’ a touching comedy about life in the twilight years – sans the sentimentality

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“A Month of Sundays” is the kind of show that’s going to wind up on just about everyone’s list of favorites at The Public Theatre in Lewiston. That’s director Christopher Schario’s prediction for the May 5-14 production, and there are a number of reasons to bet that he will be right.

The first factor in Schario’s favor is the show’s plot.

“It’s simultaneously hilarious and poignant,” he said.

“A Month of Sundays” is a comedy whose two central characters are irascible curmudgeons flirting with senility and women as they plot their way out of their retirement home.

Second, Schario has the pleasure of directing an old friend in this play.

Schario said Warren Hammack, who plays half of the elderly pair, “is a mentor of mine.” It was Hammock’s company in Kentucky that gave Schario his first directing opportunity.

Hammock’s 45-year acting career includes such highlights as playing Polonius to Jon Voight’s Hamlet, Vershinin in “Three Sisters” with Tyne Daley, and originating a role in the play “Valentine’s Day” with Matthew Broderick in New York..

The principal role of Cooper, a cynical and crusty widower, is played by Stephen Bradbury. He was last seen at The Public Theatre as the father in “Proof.”

Bradbury’s career includes roles on Broadway (“A Few Good Men”) and a long history in regional theater. He was most recently seen Off-Broadway in the new Charles Grodin play, “The Right Kind of People.”

Schario said it has been a thrill to work with both Bradbury in the role of Cooper and Hammack as Cooper’s sidekick, Aylott.

“A Month of Sunday” gets its name from a daughter’s monthly Sunday visit to her aging father. This touching comedy about life in the twilight years explores the inevitable process of aging that affects all parents, children and caregivers.

Cooper’s dutiful daughter, Julia, and her husband, Peter, visit the retirement community the first Sunday of every month. Peter will be played by New York actor Michael Hardart. Returning to The Public Theatre in the role of Julia is actress Natalie Rose Liberace, last seen as the therapist in “Manny’s War.”

Appearing with the two main characters are an earnest young nurse and a cleaning lady “who barely touches the surface of the room,” Schario said. The cleaning lady is played by local actress Colleen Mahan. The nurse is played by New York actress Sarah Koestner.

“The great thing about this play is the way it avoids sentimentality,” Schario said. “The main characters are strong, funny, stubborn people determined to age with as much dignity and good humor as possible.”

The two men face different difficulties of life and simply refuse to give in. In fact, they deal with it all with unbridled humor.

“Cooper’s daughter just wants her father to be a kindly old man, and Julia and her husband haven’t got the remotest clue about how to deal with this guy,” Schario said.

“As everyone knows,” Schario added, “a sense of humor is one of the essential factors in surviving the aging process, and this play offers two hours of comforting and fortifying laughter. For anyone dealing with the reality of an aging parent, this is an entertaining and insightful snapshot of this moment in time.”

The set is designed by Stan Spilecki, with lighting by Bart Garvey and costumes by Cathy Peters.

Originally produced in England, “A Month of Sundays” won the London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Comedy before crossing the Atlantic for its Broadway production starring Jason Robards. It was subsequently adapted for television and renamed “Age Old Friends,” starring Hume Cronyn and Vincent Gardenia.

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