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'I Do, I Do,' the first offering of New Century Players 2017-18 season, is a small, two-character musical with a big story

"I Do, I Do," the first offering of New Century Players 2017-18 season, is a small, two-character musical with a big story to tell.

'I Do, I Do' stars Kerie Geni Darner and Dirk FoleyRunning Sept. 8 through 24, it was written by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, the team behind "The Fantasticks."

"I Do, I Do" follows Agnes and Michael from their wedding night in 1895 to 50 years later, when they are leaving their beloved home to a younger generation, said director Ron Palmblad.

"It is a story of love, of family and the ups and downs two people share in a long life together," he said.

Palmblad chose the show because he felt it was a perfect fit for the Rose Villa venue. It has only two actors, one piano and one set. David Hastings, whom audiences will remember from last season's "Glorious!" and "Stairway to Paradise," is the music director.

"I Do, I Do" stars Kerie Geni Darner and Dirk Foley, and Palmblad said he is fortunate to work with them.

"At auditions I was hoping to cast people who could share this wonderful music, and I did, but in addition, they can act," he said.

"Kerie and Dirk have established a rapport from the beginning. With David's influence with musical interpretation, they create for us a view into the life of a family."

Dirk Foley

PHOTO BY RON PALMBLAD - Dirk Foley and Kerie Geni Darner join music director David Hastings at the piano as they rehearse a song from 'I Do, I Do,' opening Sept. 8 at the Rose Villa Performing Arts Center. Foley was in NCP's "Stairway to Paradise" and "Persuasion" last year and opens this year's season as Michael in "I Do, I Do."

He describes his character as a "genuine, albeit sometimes misguided, person. He is a rather stylized turn-of-the-century man, in that he is the master of the house," Foley said.

"At first, I personally felt some of his treatment of his wife, Agnes, was deplorable, especially as he gains notoriety in his work. He doesn't question the belief that women are subservient to men, and yet it is clear that he loves and values his wife."

Foley said he loves many of the moments in the show, but feels "Prologue," the opening number, sets the tone for the young, newly married couple.

In the song, he gets "to sing harmony with Kerie, and I think our voices sound great together," he said. "I also love 'Nobody's Perfect.' Although it is an argument between the two characters, it is devilishly fun to sing."

Calling "I Do, I Do" "absolutely adorable," Foley noted that audiences will like its well-written dialogue and funny moments.

"Anyone who has been married, or in any kind of relationship, will relate to this show. It is both insightful and heartwarming."

Kerie Geni Darner

As Agnes, Darner's character "grows from an innocent young bride to a mature mother and wife, always holding on to her independent streak and down-to-earth nature.

"Agnes can be romantic and seductive in her innocence, learning her value over time, able to stand up for what she believes."

Among Darner's favorite moments in the show are the fight scene, which is "electric, then melts into a heart-wrenching but touching connection I think the audience will feel."

Her character's strength and soul-searching comes to the forefront in "What is a Woman" and "Before Someone Needs Me."

In the latter, it always makes her cry when her husband reaches out to her and gives Agnes the bracelet that represents their family tree, Darner said.

"Dirk is the best leading man I could have hoped for. I feel so incredibly lucky to have been cast in this show and paired with such a powerhouse of talent.

"We hope to make people of all ages laugh and maybe cry, but definitely feel nostalgic for the special moments in life, good and bad, that make life worth living."

Musical moments

What: New Century Players presents "I Do, I Do," by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8, 9, 14, 16, 22 and 23 and 2 p.m. Sept. 10, 17 and 24

Where: Rose Villa Performing Arts Center, 13505 S.E. River Road, Portland

Tickets: General admission $25, seniors $20, and students $15; tickets are available at the door and online at NewCenturyPlayers.org. For more information, call 503-367-2620.

More: The New Century Players is a not-for-profit community theater company, with a mission to build community by providing opportunities for artistic expression through live performances.

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