AUBURN — “Prelude to a Kiss” is Community Little Theatre’s upcoming production opening Friday, June 9. It pairs laughter and romance with throat-tightening truths about life and love.

The play begins at a wedding when an old man and a young bride accidentally switch bodies, creating a chaotic relationshis that reveals lessons about the true meaning of love. 
Director Eileen Messina said CLT does not undertake the romantic genre very often. She’s confident that this play has all it takes to be a real crowd-pleaser. 
Messina directs a solid cast led by Ryan Adair and Michelle Martin as the newly-weds and popular veteran Mark Hazard as an enigmatic old man.
Martin has appeared in supporting roles of previous CLT shows, and this is her first leading role. Messina said Martin develops a “wonderful rapport” with Hazard’s character of the old man.
Immediately after Peter and Rita exchange wedding vows, an unknown elderly man asks to kiss the bride. As he does, something mystical passes between them and Peter soon discovers that his wife’s soul now inhabits the body of the old man, and vice versa. 
Peter knows immediately that something is wrong, but nobody else notices.
Neither Rita nor the old man want to change back. Peter realizes he must find the old man, discover the meaning of the mystery, and try to switch them back.
“Both of them wanted something that the other one had,” Messina said.
Although it’s a fantasy, the play unfolds realistically without relying on special effects.
Messina said Peter is also the narrator of the story. He “breaks the fourth wall” between stage and audience as he occasionally addresses the audience directly.
“Things happen in life and you can’t control them,” Messina said. 
She explained that “Prelude to a Kiss” is a romance about falling in love, marriage, and what happens when the person you married changes, either through age, appearance or illness. When it debuted in the early 1990s, it was considered to be an allegory about the AIDS epidemic. 
Other cast members are Christopher Hodgkin as Taylor, David Marshall as Dr. Boyle, Shirley Bernier as Mrs. Boyle, James McKinley and Kathy Demers as Uncle Fred and Aunt Dorothy, Tracy Draper as Leah and Mitchell Clyde Thomas as the minister.
Craig Lucas wrote “Prelude to a Kiss” in 1988 and it ran for 440 performances on Broadway in 1990-1991. The lead roles were played by Timothy Hutton, Mary-Louise Parker and Barnard Hughes. A film adaptation starring Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan came out in 1992 and the play had a Broadway revival in 2007.
Lucas is also known for writing other highly romantic shows such as “The Light in the Piazza” and a musical version of “Amèlie.“ He is author and screenwriter for the movies “Reckless” and “Longtime Companion.”
Messina notes that long-time actor Ryan Adair will be making his last CLT appearance in “Prelude to a Kiss.” Adair and his wife, Jen, will be moving to Fort Myers, Florida, where he will be the executive producer for the NBC affiliate there.
The show opens Friday, June 9, and runs on two weekends through June 18.
Performances of “Prelude to a Kiss” are at Great Falls Performing Arts Center, 30 Academy St., Auburn.
Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, June 9-10 and 16-17, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 15, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, June 11 and 18. 

Tickets are $18 for adults; $15 for seniors and $12 for children 12 and under. All seating is reserved. For tickets, call the CLT box office at 207-783-0958, or go the Web site at www.laclt.com.

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Community Little Theatre actors rehearse a scene from the upcoming production of “Prelude to a Kiss.” They are, from left: Ryan Adair as Peter, Mitch Thomas as the minister, Michelle Martin as Rita, David Marshall as Dr. Boyle, Shirley Bernier as Mrs. Boyle, Christopher Hodgkins as Taylor, Rosa Wankunku as a guest, Kathy Demers as Aunt Dorothy, Jim McKinley as Uncle Fred, Tracy Draper as Leah and Mark Hazard as the old man.


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