Iowa Summer Rep focuses on families


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Family — everybody has one: a tightly knit, complex unit of people who love one another unconditionally. Most of the time.

The Iowa Summer Rep’s theme for the season examines the absurdities and dramatics that go along with each seemingly functional — and dysfunctional — family.

Eric Forsythe, the artistic director of Summer Rep, has the responsibility of creating the season and hiring the necessary cast and crew.

“We have three stunning plays, and they all examine the notions of what a family is and what it takes to make a family, both functional and dysfunctional,” Forsythe said.

The first production, Paul Zindel’s The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds will première at 8 p.m. June 21 in the Theatre Building’s Thayer Theatre. Tickets are $5 for University of Iowa students, $26 for adults.

For the first season since Forsythe began his career with the Iowa Summer Rep, the members of the company chose a theme for their productions instead of single playwright. In accordance with the new format, each play explores a facet of what makes a family.

Zindel’s Pulitizer-Prize winning play follows the story of two sisters, their differing roles in the family, and how their trials and tribulations affect them.

“This play is ultimately about how beauty can come out of darkness and negativity,” said Mary Beth Easley, the director of the play. “It’s a play that will make people laugh, make people want to hug their children, and make us think a little bit more about the importance of education in our children.”

Multiple-Tony-nominee I Do! I Do!, written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, begins with the first stages of a young couple’s marriage and concludes with their 50th year together.

The play will be presented in July, along with the last show of the summer season, Lost in Yonkers.
Lost in Yonkers
is the story of two young boys raised by their grandmother in 1942.

Rachael Lindhart, who has the role of the grandmother as well as that of Nanny in The Effects of Gamma Rays, said these plays allow viewers to understand how the fictional families function and what members need from one another.

“I think the audience will find it fascinating to watch that experience developing in several different ways in different plays,” she said. “Your family is your family, and they’re the people you’re closest to and most integrated with you.”

And these productions focus on themes anyone could relate to, Forsythe said, creating a deeper connection with the audience.

“I think people will see themselves in each play. They’ll see their family members in these plays,” he said. “They’re each very delightful and personal and honest.”

Just like family — most of the time.

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