TR Robertson — No one family is exactly like another family, except when it comes to understanding that each family deals with a number of issues over time; each family has a number of relatives that pass through our lives; each family hides secrets from the outside world and each other; and the tragedies and happy occurrences that surround family members help shape each person’s life. Such is the story behind La Jolla Playhouse’s current production, “The Year to Come”. The play is written by award winning playwright Lindsey Ferrentino and on stage at La Jolla Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Theatre until December 30th.
The play is told in a series of scenes, all occurring on New Year’s Eve, mostly taking place on the screened in patio of one families Florida home and in the families pool, spanning 18 years in the life of this family. We will witness, and begin to understand, what makes this family tick, how the different relationships have developed and slowly begin to piece together the tragedy this family has had to deal with which stays an unspoken occurrence. . The story begins on New Year’s Eve 2018 and will culminate on New Year’s Eve 1999.
Photos by Jim Carmody
Seven members of the eight member cast are making their La Jolla Playhouse debut. The talented cast has extensive theatrical and television backgrounds and many are award winning performers. Playing the tell-it-like-it-is ultra-conservative, opionnated father, Frank, is Jonathan Nichols. His wife, Estelle, is played by Jane Kaczmarek, award winning actress from “Malcolm in the Middle”. Estelle tries to calm Frank when needed, even though she and Frank have a tragic occurrence in their life they try and cover-up. Grandfather Pop-Pop appears around year 2012 and in year 2010 we begin to see why Frank might be like he is. Pop-Pop is quite a character and in 2008 we see him play a “mean” guitar piece to Viva Las Vegas, a dream of Pop-Pop’s. Pop-Pop is played by Peter Van Wagner.
Estelle and Frank’s gay son, Jim, is played by Adam Chanler-Berat. Jim is very emotional and struggles throughout the years as he and his lover, Sinan, try to decide the best way to let Frank and Estelle know about their relationship. When we meet them in 2018, Jim’s parents, for the most part, have accepted the relationship, but it wasn’t always like that. Playing Sinan is Pomme Koch. Cousin Pam opens the play, telling us about her problems, but anticipating a new year. Pam is played by Marcia DeBonis. Pam husband, Joe is played by Ray Anthony Thomas. Ray has appeared in a previous La Jolla Playhouse production, “Glengarry Glen Ross”. Pam and Joe are a very interesting couple, struggling through life, trying to make ends meet. Pam will have the final statement of the play as, after we begin to understand everything this family has been through, she sums everything up with a question, “What Now?”. Jenna Dioguardi plays Performer. You will learn who she is in the final scenes of “The Year to Come” and everything will begin to make sense.
“The Year to Come” is directed by Anne Kaufman. Her Creative Team includes Scenic Designer Christopher Acebo, Costume Designer Dede Ayite, Lighting Designer Lap Chi Chu, Sound Designer Brandon Wolcott, Video Designer Anne Robinson, Wig/Hair & Make-up Designer J. Jared Janas and Stage Manager Cynthia Cahill.
“The Year to Come” is a fascinating look at the dynamics of a family and certainly will make you think about your own family and all of the different members that make your family so interesting and unusual. As you begin to see how the pieces of this Florida family fit together, perhaps you will better understand how your own family “works” and “what makes them tick”.
“The Year to Come” will play until December 30th at the La Jolla Playhouse. Tickets can be purchased at 858-550-1010 or go to www.lajollaplayhouse.org. Next up for La Jolla Playhouse will be “Diana – A New Musical” beginning on February 19th.