Romance and laughter: The perfect combination in Norm Foster’s Moving In

The course of true love – Actors (l-r) Molly Kidder, Viviana Zarrillo, Dan Lett and Jake Goldsbie in final rehearsals for Moving In. (The Leader/Gibb photo)

MORRISBURG – Romance is such a rare and wonderful thing. Two soul mates finding each other despite all the pitfalls out there in a big tough world. Two lovers holding hands, sharing secrets, whispering soft words of love to each other. Ultimately, perhaps, yearning for that one special, romantic song that will forever symbolize their devotion….

Mark Sarazin, excitedly rushing into the living room from the apartment ensuite. “I think I’ve come up with five possibilities for ‘our song.’”

Gretchen Tate, dryly: “And you came up with these five songs while sitting on the toilet…”

From that moment on, the audience knows that ‘Moving In,’ Norm Foster’s brand new production, now on stage at Upper Canada Playhouse until June 25, will take an hilarious, yet often heart-warming look at love and romance and all the twists and turns in between as four very different people spend 24 hours together.

Mark and Gretchen are 60 somethings, together for two years, who have decided to take the next step in their relationship and move in together. She is in real estate. He was a banker…until he quit his job to become “an artist.” They have broken the news of their decision to their grown children, Brett Sarazin and Rachel Hodges. And both children arrive at the new apartment with very different views of just what “mom and dad” ought to be doing at their ages!

Director Jesse Collins, who keeps this fast-paced show sharp and alive, has assembled a very strong cast for the debut production. As he said in an earlier Leader interview, “the first person who does a role, well, he creates it.”

As Gretchen, Viviana Zarillo plays a slight, but strong willed woman, who has had to raise her daughter alone, and then make it in a tough business world alone: it’s no surprise, she sometimes holds sentiment at bay. “Your daughter’s life is in turmoil and she needs you. Do I have to tell you how to be a mom!” her daughter exclaims. Yet, as Foster’s play makes clear, Gretchen does care, with a heart with room for a lot of love.

Dan Lett’s Mark Sarazin is something of a dreamer. Who else would quit a good, ‘normal’ job to be an artist at his age, particularly as he hasn’t sold a thing! Mark is a romantic: when his son asks him about Gretchen, he simply says “We love each other,” and we completely believe him. He may lecture his son about “real jobs” and worry a bit about Rachel’s disapproval, but in the end, he is a romantic. Part of the joy of this play is waiting for Mark and Gretchen to finally find their perfect song together. (And not, as suggested at one tense, hilarious moment, “Highway to Hell!”)

Jake Goldsbie as Brett, is a slightly scruffy, wannabe musician, whose gigs to date include only the Legion and the Knights of Columbus (“I rocked their world!”). Like his dad, there is a bit of a romantic here. Sometimes a little unsure of himself (“My father is having all kinds of sex and I can’t catch a date!”) he can still meet a woman once, and then boldly proclaim he has found the love of his life. For Brett, in life, it is “better to be misled than have all your dreams destroyed.”

Love has dealt Molly Kidder’s Rachel a blow. A cop, she has flown in from Winnipeg to question her mother’s decisions, but also to share her own heart-break. She can, at times, be a little judgemental “I think it’s too soon for you two to be moving in together:” she does not easily share her own emotions. Yet in these 24 hours, there will be a kind of breakthrough for Rachel. Perhaps she will have found, at last, a man (“I’ll go to Bingo with Ringo!”) who can truly assure her “We can go at whatever pace you want.”

Norm Foster has a true gift for writing the way real people talk. As he said in an earlier interview, his plays are about actual life, the struggles, the silliness, the ups and downs we have all faced. Audiences can identify with his characters. No sunbursts and marble halls in a Foster play! And the humour he brings to his characters, to their situations and dialogue is amazing. This is a play where every word matters. The audience roared with laughter as Mark, Gretchen, Brett and Rachel wrestled with all the realities of ‘romance’ – once or twice in utterly hilarious ways we definitely did not expect! And sometimes, we just crossed our fingers and hoped that four pretty wonderful people would find a way. ‘Moving In’ is fun, unexpected, touching. A standing ovation made it clear that it had struck a strong chord with the audience.

The morning of love…the sunset of love. There is no right age or time for love…There is just love.

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