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Jeffrey Puukka, Sandy thespians to present Julie Marino play from May 20 through June 5

COURTESY PHOTO: SANDY ACTORS THEATRE  - Kelli Lacey (Trish), Anita Sorel (Evelyn), Dan Sweet (Greg), Christian Mitchell (Rory) and Christine Anderson (Sydney) will take to the Sandy Actors Theatre stage to present "Welcome to Paradise" on May 6. After two years of the pandemic, Sandy Actors Theatre welcomes theater lovers to paradise, with the opening of a new play at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 20.

The company says the Julie Marino play "Welcome to Paradise" destroys stereotypes in more ways than one, and the cast is excited to depict that on the stage.

The play takes place in present time on a fictional Caribbean island. Instead of the obvious calypso beat, prelude music consists of jazz and rhythm and blues, suggesting that "Welcome to Paradise" isn't going to be quite as expected.

The casual beachfront cottage set design transports the audience to an idyllic island holiday. Rory (Christian Mitchell) and Evelyn (Anita Sorel) enter as new acquaintances thrust together by chance and good will, but their coincidental meeting blossoms into a relationship through a series of humorous, amiable and tender events.

Several challenges arise, including the arrival of Evelyn's extended family, who all have strong opinions about the relationship.

With the exception of SAT newcomer Dan Sweet, the cast is made up of performers known to regular audience members. Anita Sorel and Christian Mitchell create memorable, brave characters. Dan Sweet, Kelli Lacey and Christine Anderson portray family members who everyone will recognize.

"Welcome to Paradise" examines relationships with understated charm. Director Jeffrey Puukka, who directed "Streetcar Named Desire" at SAT in 2020, said: "The play has a surprising degree of depth, with unexpected layers of exploration into relationships, friendship and what it's like to see other humans as humans. In a way, the play that we think we're going to see at the beginning is not the play we see at the end"

Stage manager Joan Sanford has been with this theater company since its founding as Sandy Community Players. "This play is the most uplifting show I've seen in a long time," she said. "It holds a delicate balance between friendships, family relationships and humor."

Dan Sweet had his first acting class last November and is thrilled to be in a performance. It's his first time onstage since he played R2D2 in the third grade and fell flat on his face when he tripped over his cardboard robot costume. "I'm so grateful to be performing with such a wonderful, compassionate, patient cast," he said.

Christine Anderson is a Sandy native and still lives and works in Sandy. "Over time I've learned to love these characters, who at first seemed shallow," she said. "The whole cast seemed genuinely kind and supportive."

Christian Mitchell got his training in theater at the University of Oregon, where he specialized in improvisation and Shakespeare. "I love this play's theme of finding love and companionship outside of one's generation. It's all too rare," he said.

Anita Sorel said, "I'm just totally thrilled to be with this group. They have such a sense of adventure, and they love the process.

Apart from relationships, the play provides a thought-provoking jumping-off point to further examine the issue of elder care, a topic of increasing social importance.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, May 20 to June 5. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit sandyactorstheatre.org.

— Provided by the Sandy Actors Theatre

IF YOU GO:

What: "Welcome to Paradise" written by Julie Marino and directed by Jeffrey Puukka.

When: May 20-June 5, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays.

Where: Sandy Actors Theatre, 39181 Pioneer Blvd. (behind Ace Hardware).

Tickets: Online at sandyactorstheatre.org or at the door.


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