Newton Country Players Production Challenges Conceptions about Homosexuality; Promotes Tolerance and Acceptance
A matchmaker who can also do magic. A chess team that’s more popular than the football team. A high school where everyone can love whoever they want, however they want, whenever they want. Heartsville High, the setting for the Newton Country Players’ Zanna, Don’t!, may not be a typical high school. But it is within this setting that conceptions about homosexuality are challenged, love is encouraged, and high schoolers are accepted.
Two things the characters in the musical do spark controversy: when they stage a musical about straight men in the military and when a mixed-sex couple wants to go to the prom. But as Zanna says and as the students ultimately learn, “Nothing done out of love can ever bring us harm.” With a fun, pop score, the musical may have last run off-Broadway in 2003, but its themes of tolerance and acceptance resonate today.
It’s a rare treat to see this show: when the Newton Country Players’ production opens on August 3, it will be only the fourth time this musical has been performed in Massachusetts.
The cast of 11 hails from all over the Boston area. Somerville’s Kevin Hanley plays the titular character, Zanna, who gives up his magical abilities and his own personal happiness in the name of love. Dorchester’s Brian Vaughn Martel plays Mike, the captain of the chess team; Brighton’s Kathleen Comber plays his friend Roberta, who is tough as nails on the outside and a hopeless romantic on the inside. Cambridge’s Ben Sharton plays Steve, the new guy at school, who is confused by his feelings for Roberta, played by Needham’s Nicole Pavol. Brighton’s Todd Sandstrom plays the school DJ, Tank; Jamaica Plain’s Laurie Fisher plays Candi, the president of the school’s drama club, the school president, and the head of the prom committee.
The cast is rounded out by Anne Olmsted of Somerville in the dual roles of Loretta and Karla; David Wright of Jamaica Plain as Arvin, Bronco, and a diner customer; Noah Tobin of Brighton as Tex, Officer Klotsky, and a diner customer; and Samara Hendin of Cambridge as Principal Cooper and a diner customer.
The creative team includes director/choreographer Laura Espy of Newton and musical director Christine Kasparian Dunn of Canton.
Groups of 10 or more can save $2 off the regular rates; groups of 20 or more will pay $15 a ticket. Call 617.244.9538 or email email@example.com to make arrangements. (Tickets for adults are $20 and tickets for students and seniors are $18; MassBay Community College students with a student ID get in for free. Tickets are available online at www.newtoncountryplayers.org or at the door.) The performances will take place August 3-4 and August 10-11 at 8 p.m. at MassBay Community College, located at 50 Oakland Street in Wellesley Hills.