Playhouse cast gets ‘Love / Sick’

John Cariani’s “Love / Sick” is a collection of nine stories, each one focusing on a couple at a different stage in their relationship.

It can be performed with as few as four actors.

That’s not how director Rosalyn Blystone wanted to do it.

When the play opens Friday at Youngstown Playhouse’s Moyer Room, 18 actors will be used for the nine vignettes.

“I’m blessed to have this really diverse, fascinating cast,” Blystone said. “The whole reason for having nine different couples was to show the full range of what love looks like. I made sure to put that out there (during auditions). I wanted it to be as diverse as we could get it.”

The cast features Paul Dahman, Makenna Liller, Rhonda Dam, David Leach, Kage Jonas Coven, Eric McCrea, Sydney Campbell, Adam Dominick, Nailah Thomas, Rachael Conrad, Liz Conrad, Jason A. Green, Brian Suchora, Tricia Terlesky, Jenna Cintavey, Brenda Zyvith, Aaron Newell and Blystone.

There also was a practical reason for that approach. Blystone submitted “Love/Sick” for consideration because she thought it would be a perfect show for the Playhouse’s Moyer Room and the slot in the schedule around Valentine’s Day.

With a smaller cast, it would have required a bigger time commitment by the actors coming out of the holidays. With 18 actors, the performers didn’t need to show up for rehearsals every night or be there for hours when they did rehearse.

It may have been easier for the actors; it wasn’t for the director.

“It was a lot to coordinate and a real learning curve working around everyone’s schedule conflicts to maximize our rehearsal schedule, but it worked,” Blystone said. “When they did rehearse, they only had to work on one scene, so they didn’t have to be there for hours and hours. We got a lot of work done in a short amount of time.”

Last Thursday was the first time she had all 18 performers there on the same night.

“During rehearsals they got a sense of what their scene was, but they didn’t get to see the bigger picture,” Blystone said. “After Thursday it was, ‘Now I see where I fit into that journey.’ It was beautiful to see it all come together.”

Cariani also wrote “Almost, Maine,” another episodic play about relationships that has been staged multiple times in the area. Blystone said audience members also will find plenty to relate to in the different stories.

“One of the things I think is brilliant about this show is it really captures those pinnacle tension moments for each stage of a relationship and leaves the characters just generic enough that you get to fill in the blanks yourself,” she said. “I feel the audience themselves will connect and see their own personal experience reflected in the show and fill in those blanks for themselves.”

If you go …

WHAT: “Love / Sick”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Feb. 18

WHERE: Youngstown Playhouse, 600 Playhouse Lane, Youngstown

HOW MUCH: Tickets are $17 and are available online at experienceyourarts.org and by calling the Playhouse box office at 330-788-8739.


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