‘Return Engagements’ brings laughs to SRT

Natalia Maggio plays Dawn Hammond and Robin Thompson portrays Oliver Edwards in the Scripps Ranch Theatre production of “Return Engagements,” running through April 28. (photo by Ken Jacques)

‘Return Engagements’ brings laughs to SRT

There’s still time to get in on the fun of “Return Engagements,” a classic comedy presented by Scripps Ranch Theatre through April 28.

Written by Bernard Slade, the same playwright who wrote “Tribute” and “Same Time Next Year,” “Return Engagements” similarly follows a set of characters over the years, sharing with the audience all the laughs and lessons learned along the way.

The first act introduces three different couples: “a tipsy actress and the bellboy who bedded her the night before, a gutsy Polish woman who has survived World War II and the carpenter she chooses to father her baby, and an acid-tongued columnist and his cool psychotherapist wife.”
In Act II, the audience catches up with the couples 20, 25 and 30 years later.

Director Charles Peters pointed out that Slade also wrote for television sitcoms ­ including “Bewitched,” “The Flying Nun” and “The Partridge Family” – and brought his understanding of comedy to his playwriting.

“It’s interesting how he wrote (“Return Engagements”) because there are three major couples in (the play) and three different styles of comedy,” Peters said. “Each couple represents a different style of comedy: one’s a little more farcical, one’s a little more grounded and one’s a little more witty and satirical. It’s very interesting to observe.”

This is something of a return engagement for the play itself. The local theater previously staged “Return Engagements” about 10 years ago, according to Peters. One of the actors in that play was Jill Drexler, who is now the artistic director at SRT.

The cast of this 2019 production includes Morgan Carberry as Fern Edwards, Adam Daniel as Raymond McKay, Julia Giolzetti as Miranda Jablonski, Natalia Maggio as Dawn Hammond, Ruth Carlson Russell as Daisy Lawrence, Robin Thompson as Oliver Edwards, Nick Young as Joe Bristol and Samuel Young as Henry Metcalf.

While filled with laughs and intersecting plot lines and references, Peters noted that audiences seeing “Return Engagements” can also expect touching and poignant parts of each story.

“There are moments about the choices we make in life, how they resonate throughout time and how even small things can resonate,” the director said. “I think every person in the audience can, in some way, identify with at least one or more of the characters and how they feel.”

There’s also something for those familiar with Canadian life and lifestyles. Set in Stratford in the Canadian province of Ontario, the play’s script and characters include a number of “Canadianisms” that those familiar with the country will recognize, according to Peters, whose wife and mother-in-law are Canadian.

“My mother-in-law came and laughed her head off at some of the things,” Peters said. “I don’t know that everyone will get it, but that’s an added layer.”

Scripps Ranch Theatre performs on the campus of Alliant International University, 9783 Avenue of Nations. “Return Engagements” can be seen Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through April 28. To reserve seats, call (858) 578-7728. For ticket price information, visit scrippsranchtheatre.org.

42 thoughts on “‘Return Engagements’ brings laughs to SRT
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