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Sandy Actors Theatre presents show about finding companionship in unexpected places well worth the ticket cost

COURTESY PHOTO: SANDY ACTORS THEATRE - Kelli Lacey (Trish), Anita Sorel (Evelyn), Dan Sweet (Greg), Christian Mitchell (Rory) and Christine Anderson (Sydney) present 'Welcome to Paradise' on the Sandy Actors Theatre stage through June 5. Significant others aren't always your soulmates and soulmates aren't always your significant others. At least, that's a message well-depicted by Anita Sorel (Evelyn) and Christian Mitchell (Rory) in Sandy Actors Theatre's current production of "Welcome to Paradise," written by Julie Marino and directed by Jeffrey Puuka.

Though the play felt a bit slow to start, possibly because the expected awkwardness of strangers becoming acquainted, once the initial storm of halted conversation passed, the story flowed and provided moments of levity mixed with scenes of true sincerity.

The story follows the, albeit unconventional, relationship of Evelyn and Rory, who are separated by several decades in age, but form an understanding and strong platonic relationship after Evelyn invites Rory, a unrooted world traveler, to stay in her home.

Despite the admonishing of her misunderstanding family who show up a week early spoiling the duo's fun, Evelyn and Rory's relationship only grows and continues to show that paradise is where you "feel embraced."

As Evelyn would say "vibes, ya know?"

Least understanding of Evelyn's interrupting brood is her son Greg, who insists she must be sliding into dementia based on her choice to allow a stranger to stay indefinitely in her home. Dare to say, you're not supposed to like Greg, and first-time SAT actor Dan Sweet sees to it that you don't, playing a very convincingly uptight and hot-tempered adult child.

Though blood is supposedly thicker, Evelyn and Rory's relationship appears to hold faster than her ties to her son who'd as soon see his mother in a home and her beloved beach house as a timeshare.

As Evelyn asserts to Greg: "you don't see me, do you? … Rory sees me as a person."

As wife Trish and daughter Sydney to Greg (respectively), Kelli Lacey and Christine Anderson do great jobs of further characterizing Greg as the "burdened," ill-tempered man who longs for total control. And, while the two characters might not entirely understand the relationship unfolding in the small island home, they are more inclined to see it as harmless or at least not their business.

To an older audience, or anyone with a strong desire for independence, this show could be very empowering. It is not uncommon that we all experience at some point in our lives the friction of trying to remain our own person despite others' agendas, and Evelyn (Sorel), and the SAT cast, depict that endeavor very well.

There are still three more chances to see "Welcome to Paradise" on the Sandy stage at 17433 S.E. Meinig Ave.

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

IF YOU GO:

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

When: May 20 through 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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