Butterfield Stage in Gainesville recently began showing its first production of the year. “4,000 Miles” stars Katie Carpenter, Marilen Juntado, Alfred Wiser and Lee Skinner at the theater located at 201 S. Denton Street, Gainesville.
The play will show until Feb. 4. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased through the box office, by visiting butterfieldstage.org, or by calling 940-664-1284. The play has mature language and Butterfield recommends patrons ages 16 and older attend the production.
“If we had a black box theater at Butterfield, this production is one that we would do in there,” Director Sandy Geyer said. “It’s a more intimate show. It is also a little more edgy than the normal fair that we do here in Gainesville.”
This production was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, was written by Amy Herzog and addresses themes like family and the power of healing.
“There are a lot of touching moments in this play,” Geyer said. “It’s about grandparents and grandchildren and reconnecting. Not all of us have our grandparents in our lives so it touches on something really important as far as relationships are concerned.”
“4,000 Miles” is about the cross-country bicycle trip that Leo Joseph-Connell made with a male friend. The pair are traveling from Seattle to New York, but unfortunately, along the way Joseph-Connell’s friend is killed in a road accident. Saddened and distraught, Joseph-Connell cannot bring himself to return to his family in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he has evidently caused severe family disapproval for his actions at home.
Once in New York, the exhausted and filthy Joseph-Connell rings the bell of the apartment in Greenwich Village where the long-widowed Vera Joseph, his grandmother, lives alone. Dragging his bike inside and pulling off his backpack, Joseph-Connell is not in great shape. The 91-year-old political activist’s solitary existence is entirely shaken when her grandson appears at the door in the middle of the night. Leo assures Vera that he won’t stay long. Leo, however, is in crisis, confused by an on-again, off-again romance, furious with his mother’s incessant meddling, and grieving deeply for his best friend and biking partner, Micah.
Meanwhile, his attempt to seek respite and to reconnect with his estranged girlfriend Bec is futile, as she tells him to take a hike. Bec feels fretful and concerned about him — and still very much in love with him — but not quite sure how to relate to Vera’s brutally frank observations.
Four cast members make up the play. Lee Skinner will play the role of Vera Joseph. Alfred Weser will play Leo Joseph-Connell. Katie Carpenter will take on Bec and Marilen Juntado will play Amanda.
“Normally we go through an audition process,” Geyer said. “But, when we were reading plays and thinking about what we wanted to do with this one, two of the well-known actors at the theater, Lee and Alfred, decided that they wanted to take on the two lead characters for this play. Then for the two smaller parts, we found two women that are just great.
“Skinner and Weser are excellent actors so directing this play has really been a cake walk. They are so good at doing this that when you see it, you will not believe that this is a community theater production. I am most excited for people to see something new and different at Butterfield. I want people to be saying, ‘Wow, I cannot believe this talent is in this town.’ This play is a slice of life. We want to get this just right.”