By Jordan Wright
A nifty little romantic fantasy this way cometh from The Little Theatre of Alexandria. “Prelude to a Kiss” is the perfect antidote needed to brush away the quarantine blues. For those who remember the film starring Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan, this will be a fun and lively reprise.
The rom-com with a message penned by playwright/ actor Craig Lewis tells the story of a young couple who meet and fall in love in a split second. Rita (Brianna Goode) is a bartender at The Tin Market. Her politics drift toward socialism. Sorta. She’s an incurable insomniac and lifelong cynic. Peter (Smithchai Chutchainon) on the other hand is conservative yet freewheeling. Will it work out? Think James Carville and Mary Matalin.
Enter Rita’s parents Dr. Boyle (Jon Radulovic) and his wife Marion (Christine Tankersley). Well-off and living in the tony suburbs of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, they welcome Peter into their lives and after a steamy, whirlwind courtship – the production has an “intimacy choreographer” – the young couple wed.
At the wedding a stranger appears, an elderly man (Cliff Rieger) who kisses the bride and wishes her well. But the stranger’s kiss transfers his soul to Rita’s. I flashed back to the Disney film “Freaky Friday” that employs a similar conceit wherein the mother switches bodies with her daughter – and assumes her offspring’s teenage, angsty experiences.
On their Jamaican honeymoon, Peter quickly notices that his wife has become both feisty and fearless and resolves to get to the bottom of her peculiar transformation. “It’s as if she had switched channels,” he observes. The “new” Rita tries to convince Peter that she is the same person and when they return from Jamaica, she reads the real Rita’s old journals to mimic her behavior and attempt to regain Peter’s love. How Peter bravely tries to restore Rita to her true self demonstrates the power of love.
There are some excellent performances, most especially by Radulovic who has a history of performing in some of D.C.’s leading theaters and shows his pro acting chops here; Rieger who delivers an impassioned soliloquy on Life and Death in Act II; Liz Leboo who came in at the last minute to replace Tankersley and whom I hope we’ll see a lot more of; the shirtless, sexy and wonderfully intense Chutchainon who shines when he breaks the fourth wall in search of the truth; and Goode, who proves to be the perfect sultry and vulnerable complement to Peter.
With Casey Knisley as Taylor; Joey Pierce as Tom; Brendan Chaney as Uncle Fred; Deja Elliott as Aunt Dorothy; Amber Kelly-Herard as Waiter; and Kelly Trott as Leah.
Produced by Carol Strachan and Alan Wray; directed by Maggie Mumford; set design by Peter Mumford; lighting design by JK Lighting Design; sound design by David Correia; costume design by Mary Wallace; and intimacy choreographer, Ruben Vellekoop.
If you go:
Run dates: Through June 25.
Where: The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe St., Alexandria, 22314.
For tickets and information: Call the box office at 703-683- 0496 or visit www.TheLittleTheatre.com. Strict COVID-19 protocols are in place for all performances. Check the website for details.
Jordan Wright writes about food, spirits, travel, theatre and culture. Visit her website at www.whiskandquill.com or email her at Jordan@ WhiskandQuill.com