Selah theater stages ‘Kiss the Moon’
If you go …
WHAT: Selah Dessert Theater — “Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun”
WHEN: 8 p.m. Sept 28, 29 and 30 and Oct. 6, 7, 13 and 14
WHERE: Selah Restaurant, 130 S. Bridge St., Struthers
HOW MUCH: Tickets are $19.50 (including dessert and coffee at intermission) and are available online at selahrestaurant.com. The theater only is accessible by stairs.
Selah Dessert Theater will open its 2023-24 season with a kiss.
Norm Foster’s comedy / drama “Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun” starts a three-weekend run Sept. 28 in the performance space above Selah Restaurant in Struthers.
“I read the show several years,” Selah Dessert Theater founder Mary Ruth Lynn said. “I liked it, but it didn’t really fit into the past seasons. I looked at it again this year. A theater friend from New Hampshire had done it up there and said, ‘You should really do this show. It would fit in your space and be a good show for your audience.'”
The play tells the story of Holly, a young woman in her 20s with an unexpected pregnancy due to a relationship with her former college professor. The father is divorcing his wife, but he has no interest in Holly if she’s keeping the baby.
There’s also the story of Claire, a woman dealing with cancer and heart disease who is the only caregiver for her son Robert, a 35-year-old man with a mental age of about 7 or 8 years old. The two stories intersect when Holly meets Robert at the bus stop.
“It had some human aspect as wells as its humor,” Lynn said. “It’s not a typical Norm Foster play. He usually does broad comedy, but this has much softer touch and deals with some real life situations that are very current right now.”
The cast features Wendy Wygant as Holly, Maria Petrella as Claire, Ben Bogan as Robert, Brandon Donaldson as the professor and Kevin Sullivan as Claire’s doctor.
Lynn decided to cast a neurodivergent actor to play the role of Ben. It wasn’t her initial plan, but no one initially showed up to auditions seeking the role.
“When that happens, you start hitting social media, talking to people you know in the theater community,” Lynn said. “Several people recommended I talk to Ben. He had done some things at Top Hat (Productions), musical things that are bigger-than-life roles.”
Bogan was going to Florida, and Lynn ended up casting him from a video audition.
“I was just looking for someone who could do the role,” she said. “Playing someone like a child when you’re an adult isn’t always easy. I watched the video, and this guy might work.
“It’s a big role. It’s been a challenge, but he’s working on it and doing a great job. With the publicity about neurodivergency and particularly using actors who are dealing with some type of neurodivergent process going on, it seemed like a perfect fit for the show and for the audience to see that neurodivergent people just want to be accepted for who they are and that they have talent. I think it’s a great plus all the way around.”
Two of the seven scheduled performances, including opening night, already are sold out.