On April 5, the Oakland Center for the Arts will continue its acclaimed 26th season with Prelude to a Kiss. Written by Craig Lucas in 1988, the romantic fantasy is widely believed to be a response to the AIDS epidemic. The opening night production is preceded by a book-signing and art event titled Before and Afterlives—Visual Interpretations, where local author Christopher Barzak will launch his latest book.
Prelude to a Kiss tells the story of Rita and Peter. Shortly after their nuptials the couple experiences a supernatural event that causes them to re-examine what love is. Peter and Rita as well the audience, learn to look beyond outward beauty into the discovery of a person. In the end, the couple learns, as they cleave to their love, that it is both a fragile and a durable thing. Director Liz Conrad describes her experience: “This show has been the most rewarding directorial experience I have ever had. The cast, crew, and theater have been professional, excited and completely supportive. It’s been a privilege.” Anthony Genovese and Kate Starling play Peter and Rita. The cast also includes Tommy O’Donnell, Molly Galano, Terry Shears, Lynn Kirkwood, Zara Markman, Nic Tatalovic, Lindsay Clifton, Carlos Rivera, and Larissa Woloszyn.
Barzak’s collection touches on similar themes of love and the supernatural. Barzak believes that these themes also speak to what it means to live in Youngstown. He is enthusiastic about his book’s launch party merging with the opening night of the play: “The places where art, music, theater, and writing intersect are the places where the real energy of this city can be seen and felt. Youngstown is often viewed as a ghost town. But like the supernatural stories in my new collection, I think it’s apparent that, if that’s true, this city has a long afterlife, and new incarnations to explore in its future.”
In addition to the book signing, the Oakland Star Gallery will showcase the work of fifteen local artists, all who created pieces inspired by Before and Afterlives. These artists include Tony Romandetti, Tony Nicholas, Marcie Applegate, Lynn Cardwell, Christine D’ Angelo, Jeffrey Puccini, Fred Shepherd, Jess Leininger, Jo Ann Buzulencia, Crystal Beiersdorfer, Daniel Horne, Maryanne Caleris, Sharon Meenachan, Kelly Bancroft, and Robert Joki. Guests may purchase copies of the Barzak’s collection on site, and all art pieces are also for sale.
Barzak’s first novel, One for Sorrow, is currently in film production (title Jamie Marks is Dead), starring Liv Tyler and Cameron Monaghan.
Before and Afterives—Visual Interpretations is from 6:00-8:00 on Friday April 5, followed immediately by the opening of Prelude to a Kiss, which runs Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 from April 5-20. For more information or to order tickets, call the theatre at (330) 746-0404 or find it on Facebook.
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