Revisiting the past changes the future when a high school reunion unexpectedly turns an old classmate into a new love when the The Public Theatre stages the Maine premiere of the charming and thought-provoking romantic comedy “The Midvale High School 50th Reunion,” playing May 4 through 13.

 The bittersweet fun of attending a reunion is seeing our own changes reflected in the eyes of everyone we meet. But, how many of us have become the person we imagined we’d be when we “grew up”? How many people will you recognize? After 50 years, will you even recognize yourself?

As Bettina, the class valedictorian, and Tom, an unpopular loner, weave their way through the party, their paths cross, and a new road for both of them appears as they fill in the blanks in each other’s lives. Included in the plot is a series of flashbacks woven through the real time of their high school reunion. Watching an ambitious young Bettina pursue a career in science only to collide with a “glass ceiling”, or seeing an earnest young Tom struggling to articulate his emotional life, one can’t help but wonder how many things have and haven’t changed in 50 years.

“This play is an unsentimental look at the roads we do and don’t take in our lives, and a hopeful reminder that it’s never too late to make new choices, or even to fall in love,”Director Christopher Schario said. Adding, “having such a delightful, smart and desirable older women as a central character in the play, definitely makes this a great show to bring your mom to for Mother’s Day”.

 All four of the actors are New York-based professionals. The role of Bettina will be played by Joyce Cohen. Joyce has appeared on television, Broadway, Off-Broadway, and film, with her most recognizable role in the Disney movie “High School Musical.” The role of Tom, her former classmate, will be played by Mel Shrawder. Mel recently completed a two-year tour of “West Side Story” throughout Europe. His television and film work include appearances on “Law and Order,” “Miami Vice” and “Critical Condition” with Richard Pryor. The role of Young Bettina, etc. will be played by Nisi Sturgis. Aside from her acting work in New York and with numerous regional theatres, Nisi appeared for five seasons as June Thompson on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” The role of Young Tom, etc. will be played by Torsten Hillhouse. Torsten has extensive experience in New York and regional theatres and was seen last season at The Public Theatre in “Ripcord.”

The Public Theatre’s Annual Silent Auction will be held in the lobby during the run of the production. The Opening-Night Brew Ha Ha performance featuring a free pre-show beer sampling hosted by Baxter Brewing will start at 6:30 p.m. in the theatre’s lobby on Friday, May 4. The Wine-Down Thursday performance, featuring a free pre-show wine sampling hosted by Rails Restaurant, will start at 6:30 pm on Thursday, May 10. A free post-show discussion featuring the cast and director will directly follow the Sunday, May 6, performance.

“The Midvale High School 50th Reunion” runs May 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13. Show times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., with an added Saturday matinee on May 12 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for anyone 18 and under. For tickets call 782-3200 or visit www.thepublictheatre.org.

Joyce Cohen as class valedictorian Bettina with her former classmate, Tom, played by Mel Shrawder. 


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