In the opening of Next ActTheatre's production of The Pavilion by Craig Wright, actress Angela Iannone will be performing poetry and talking about raindrops, volcanoes and the beginning of the universe. And then she'll get down to business, because the play isn't really about any of these things.
The Pavilion is actually about two people at a high-school reunion-Peter and Kari-voted "Cutest Couple" some 20 years before. Kari is married to a somewhat dull, loving husband and Peter's trying to win her back. He is still clearing out the skeletons in his closet even as he approaches her on a familiar dance floor, looking to be forgiven. The story may seem cliché, having inspired numerous romantic comedies over the years, but Wright's approach to the story has garnered much praise and many trips to the stage in the few years since it debuted.
Next Act has assembled some real talent to bring out the unique flavor of The Pavilion. Producing Artistic Director David Cecsarini helms an interesting cast. Mary MacDonald Kerr, one of Milwaukee's most talented actresses, is set to play Kari. Recently Kerr has moved offstage to direct, so it's a rare pleasure to see her onstage. Chicago-based actor Mark Ulrich will play Peter. Ulrich made a memorable impression earlier this season in the twin roles of reporter and saint in Next Act's Lombardi and should have no difficulty keeping up with Kerr. Iannone plays all of the other characters that the couple runs into on the way to each other. She always brings a magnetic presence to the stage, which will be important in rendering the full emotional reality of the narrator's poetry.
Next Act's production of The Pavilion runs April 2 to May 3 at the Off-Broadway Theatre.