Over Our Head Players has opened its 28th season with “Chapatti,” a two-person Irish love story by Christian O’Reilly.
The play takes a sweet and often funny look at the lives of two lonely animal-loving senior citizens, played by Kevin Hlavka and Barbi McGuire.
The play, according to show organizers, “is a gentle reminder of the need for human companionship and that love, at any age, is the ultimate joy.”
Dan, a retired senior citizen, spends his days with his dog, Chapatti, taking long walks and unneeded visits to the local veterinarian. Dan is lonely and has decided to find a new home for Chapatti and then leave Ireland for good.
Betty is another animal-lover — she has 19 cats — who yearns for a love she’s never experienced.
When the two meet by chance, Betty quickly becomes smitten by Dan and begins finding excuses to see him and get his help. Dan is in a constant state of melancholy, but Betty is able to make him laugh for the first time in years.
Gradually, sparks begin to fly between the two as they realize that they do not have to be alone and that being connected with humans is more gratifying than the safe companionship of their pets.
“Chapatti” was originally commissioned and produced for radio by RTE Radio Drama before being produced onstage by Chicago’s Northlight Theatre and the Galway International Arts Festival, opening in 2014.
“I originally wrote it as a short film script, and it was later produced as a radio play, but because it was about two lonely characters, I always felt I wanted them to tell their story to an audience,” playwright O’Reilly said in an interview with Galway Advertiser.
In Racine, Over Our Head Players Managing Artistic Director Rich Smith is directing the show.
He chose “Chapatti” for production because of its “unique plot, fresh storytelling style and brilliant writing,” along with what he calls “two very challenging roles for two of our area’s finest veteran actors.”
Also this season
Later this fall, the troupe will debut “KRINGLE ... The Musical?, Part II: West of the I Side Story!” — an original sketch comedy musical by Smith and some of the other troupe members.
In 2017, the original “KRINGLE ..... The Musical?” show debuted; this time, the local humor moves west of I-94 as the kringle-bending Yopanssan clan saga continues in the Land of the Union Grovers. Smith said the show is “accompanied by our take on some favorite pop melodies and is sure to feature many puns, sight gags, cheap jokes and Racine references.” That show runs Nov. 15-Dec. 8.
The 2020 Snowdance 10-Minute Comedy Festival — the 16th anniversary production of the 10-minute original comedy competition — is Jan. 31 through March 1.
Writers from throughout the community, the state and the country are invited to submit original 10-minute plays. In prior years, hundreds of entries from coast-to-coast have been received, and even international entrants have made it to production. Judges will choose the best of the entrants to be produced.
Then, in the ultimate interactive experience, the audience members vote on who should win the cash prize.
Later in 2020 is a “lyrical, yet biting, romantic comedy” by John Patrick Shanley.
“Outside Mullingar” tells the unlikely story of Anthony and Rosemary, two introverted farmers who haven’t got a clue when it comes to love. With the years slipping away, this eccentric pair will need to overcome a bitter land feud, family rivalries and their own romantic fears to find happiness. Full of dark humor and poetic prose, “Outside Mullingar” runs March 27 through April 11.
The season closes in May with “The Roommate,” a dark comedy about a comical mismatch by Jen Silverman. “The Roommate” could be described as “Breaking Bad” meets “The Odd Couple.” Sharon, a recently divorced housewife in Iowa, advertises for a roommate. Enter Robyn, a pot-smoking vegan lesbian scam artist from the Bronx. Their chance cohabitation sets their lives spinning. Performances are May 15 through 31.
Smith describes the entire season as “fresh,” adding that “part of the Over Our Head Players’ mission is to present new material, and we have more fresh, new offerings this season more than ever before.”
“For example,” he said, “production rights for ‘Chapatti’ just became available. ‘Chapatti’ is fresh, new and unique: a play about pets, age and lost love that had a highly recognized professional run. We are excited to bring this Irish love story to downtown Racine.”
Season ticket packages and individual tickets are on sale. Check the website, www.overourheadplayers.org.