Nostalgia and contemporary topical relevance work together in Wendy Wasserstein's comedic piece "The Heidi Chronicles." The witty spectacle follows art historian Heidi Holland along her journey through the cultural shifts of 1964 to 1989.
Producing Artistic Director Michael Edwards chose Laura Kepley, the Artistic Associate Director at the Cleveland Playhouse, to direct "The Heidi Chronicles." Kepley has directed works such as "Elephant's Graveyard," "Breadcrumbs" and "The Clean House." It will be her first time directing at the Asolo Repertory Theatre, and she is thrilled to be a part of the American Character Project.
"Heidi connects to the core of the American doctrine, which is the pursuit of happiness," said Kepley. "When we realize that we can't have it all, we have to decide what is essential to us. Heidi realizes that her happiness is her responsibility."
Although "The Heidi Chronicles" is widely perceived as a play for women, it features two dominant male characters -- Peter Patrone, a gay pediatrician, played by Brian Sills, and Scoop Rosenbaum, a magazine editor known for his infidelity, played by Zachary Fine.
"Both guys have told me that these characters are some of the most three-dimensional roles they have ever played," said Kepley. "Wasserstein definitely knows how to write funny, complete male characters."
Lizzie King-Hall from the Trinity Repertory Company stars as Heidi.
The ensemble cast is comprised of nine Florida State University MFA students who will also assist in scene changes.
The production features a medley of classic music that triggers memories and good feelings from each era represented. Audience members will laugh along at the wardrobe changes as they remember the days of wearing bell bottoms and wide-collared shirts. Costume designer Jennifer Caprio created a total of 90 costumes for the play, which is unheard of for a show that is not a musical. Heidi has 13 different looks, with many costume changes occurring in-scene.
"The Heidi Chronicles" allows viewers to live vicariously through its characters as it explores the themes of politics, changes in society, women's liberation, and friendships that endure tension. One of its clearest messages is to share your life with the people you love.
For the younger generation, it is an opportunity to better understand their parents as they gain life lessons that are still applicable for both men and women. However, Kepley suggests that the show may not be appropriate for theater-lovers under age 12.
"I think the audience will be surprised with how contemporary the play still feels as they enjoy the humor," said Kepley. "It is loving and sympathetic as it looks into the baby boomer generation and what they pioneered for future generations."
Details: Various times through March 17, Mertz Theatre in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $20-$72. Information: 941-351-8000 or www.asolorep.org.