Excitedly we opened our invitation to opening night of the Tony Award Winning comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike currently on stage at Straz Center for Performing Arts. Produced by Jobsite Theater, a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization, this hilarious blockbuster from Obie Award-winning writer Christopher Durang has consistently pleased critics. We could not wait to see his Chekhov inspired play! Lauded by The New York Post as, “riotous … a ton of fun even if you can’t tell your Seagull from your Uncle Vanya here are 7 reasons why Jobsite Theater's production of the famous play "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" Tops our 'Play' List.
7 Reasons Jobsite's Famous "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" Tops our 'Play' List
1. Love of Theater
Acclaimed Jobsite Artistic Associate Paul J. Potenza returns to the director’s chair to stage this hilarious homage to familiar Chekhov themes of heartbreak and hope, brawn and bravado, infirmity and introspection. Potenza and his crew skillfully stage Christopher Durang’s brilliant work in the intimate Shimberg Theater. Co-chair of the Juilliard School's Playwrite Program since 1994, Durang is a recent inductee of the Theatre Hall of Fame and winner of the Dramatists Guild Hull Warriner Award, the Harvard Arts Medal, and the PEN/Laura Pels Award for Master American Dramatist. If you love good theater, you will love this play!
2. Won the 2013 Tony Award for 'Best Play'
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a thought-provoking comedy keeping audiences laughing across the country. Variety magazine calls “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, "a brainy and witty, clever and cute hilarious mash up of classic themes, of existential loss and longing with a modern spin and endlessly inventive comic twists. ” Deliriously funny,” according to The New York Times, “The theater erupts in booming gusts of laughter… I can imagine many satisfied patrons leaving the theater muttering, ‘Now if only real Chekhov plays were this funny maybe I wouldn’t keep falling asleep … hilarious!" The Hollywood Reporter raved, “This is a work by a mature playwright taking stock and illuminating countless universal truths … He also demonstrates the enduring currency of Chekhov’s themes, showing that for all our supposed progress in the era of mass connectivity, despair and disappointment are as present as ever.”
3. We are all a little dysfunctional
In a rural setting somewhere in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, following the death of their parents, Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia argue as their famous sister Masha is in route to their childhood home to let them know she is selling their house. As the ‘kids’ argue, reflect, reconcile and reminisce amidst preparations for a nearby costume party, a loud and boisterous cleaning lady with the gift of prophecy enters the dysfunctional mix along with aging actress Masha’s narcissistic boy-toy Spike. Spike, benign to the idiosyncrasies of the siblings, chases after Nina, a wide-eyed aspiring actress visiting a nearby neighbor. It is Spike who plays the Deus ex machina to the dramatic ending in this funny theatrical adventure.
4. Humorous Insight
In this clever production we see even though family issues can be quite serious, reality is often ridiculously absurd leaving you with only one option, to laugh! “Stuck” in familiar rituals, even the act of pouring Vanya’s coffee each morning is a treat for malcontent Sonia who, as the weekend progresses, faces repressed resentment during Masha’s visit. Masha too undergoes catharsis as she deals with her lover, a costume party, a voodoo loving psychic named Cassandra and adorable young Nina from next door. With humor and warmth a familiar Chekhov theme, 'change' takes place in the lives of these incomparable characters.
“Hilarious…You've only spent a weekend with these people, but you might want to spend the rest of your life with Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike." - Huffington Post
5. Unconditional Love
Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia stayed home their entire lives, spending countless days dealing with aging parents while sister Masha became a famous movie star. Struggling with lives unlived, unemployed and sheltered Vanya and Sonia envy Masha. As her brother and sister cared for their parents Masha went off to fame and fortune; supporting the family from across the country Masha remained removed from the situation at home, choosing instead to focus on her career and multiple marriages. Durang’s play, revolving around family, identity, respect and love between family members takes a humorous look at how we interact and the impact of choices we make.
6. Lost Art of Listening
Durang's play uses humor to explore the question, "In today's digital age, are we losing the ability to listen?" Spike, whose claim to fame is having been "almost cast" in 'Entourage 2', finds every excuse to strip down to his underwear and like a playful puppy bounds from one part of the set to another. Blissfully unaware, the few times Spike listens he does not comprehend; often looking curious, he quickly dismisses that which does not feed his need for immediate pleasure. Disconnected, he quickly engages when asked to reprise his audition for Entourage and later serves as the catalyst leading to Vanya's impassioned speech in the second act when he rudely fails to listen.
7. Shared Experiences
In our favorite moment of the play, tensions erupt when Vanya becomes furious as Spike pays attention to text messages during Nina’s performance of a play Vanya wrote. What follows is a profound, enraged rant against contemporary life referencing Vanya's childhood. A time when people wrote with typewriters, and televisions had three channels. A time when kids had shared experiences watching shows like The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Kookla, Fran and Ollie, a time when we licked postage stamps to get them to stick! Brilliantly written by Durang and acted by Jobsite Theater actor Brian Shea, Vanya's tirade is the heart of the play.
The Details and How To's
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike opened Fri., Feb. 26, and is held over due to popular demand. Previously scheduled to close on Sun., March 20, additional performances will take place Fri., March 25 and Sat., March 26, at 8 pm. All tickets are $28 with Rush tickets available to students, seniors, military/veterans and their dependents. Ticket prices for Theatre Tampa Bay members are $14 and available 30 minutes prior to curtain on a cash-only basis at the Straz Ticket window. Rush tickets are subject to availability.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike features the ensemble cast of:
Brian Shea as peacemaker Vanya
Roz Potenza as insecure Sonia
Elizabeth Fendrick as famous actress Masha
Jamie Jones as the irrepressible Spike
Jonelle Meyer as the lovable psychic housekeeper Cassandra
Emily Belvo as young aspiring actress Nina .
If you like to laugh, this show is a must-see! Buy your tickets today through the Jobsite Theater website.