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Jane Martin’s “Jack and Jill” Is a Funny, Serious Romance for Mature Audiences

Noelle Barnard and Jim Azarelo star in "Jack and Jill," which runs June 10-18

Noelle Barnard and Jim Azarelo star in "Jack and Jill," which runs June 10-18

The Free Association Theatre Ensemble will stage Jack and Jill, Jane Martin’s prize-winning 1996 romance for mature audiences, on June 10, 11, and 16-18 in its storefront performance space at 267 Grande Heights Dr. in Harrison Pointe Shopping Center in Cary, NC. (Jack and Jill won the 1997 American Theatre Critics Association Award for Best New Play.)

According to Samuel French, Inc.:

“With her signature offbeat humor and fierce passion, the author of Keely and Du [1993] and other well-known plays examines the many labors of love in a modern comedy of manners. While most romances focus on the search for Mr. or Ms. Right, Jack and Jill explores what happens after two people find the right fit. From an awkward courtship to marital bliss and beyond, the author playfully portrays the hard work of love that requires balancing intimacy with commitment, self-discovery and personal change.”

“Despite Mother Goose supplying the title [for this show],” cautions FATE director John Paul Middlesworth, “[Jack and Jill] is a play for adults — a funny, serious play.”

When the curtain rises, John Paul Middlesworth explains, “Jack Stoyadinovac (played by Jim Azarelo) introduces himself to Jill (Noelle Barnard), explaining that he’s interested in some ‘non-threatening relating.’ Jill initially resists, but they soon hit it off. Marriage follows (each character’s second), and later the couple ‘comes tumbling down’ as they find their emotional needs unfulfilled.

“Despite a parting at the end of Act I, the second act finds them back together, climbing back up the hill, as it were,” says Middlesworth. “Jack is eager for a reconciliation, but Jill won’t have it. By the play’s conclusion, Jill’s own conflicted needs come to the surface.”

Middlesworth adds, “Jack and Jill combines sophisticated dialogue with a lot of quirky humor. You really feel for these characters as they hit their inevitable difficulties. They’re smart young professionals undeniably drawn to one another, but the attraction can’t overcome the baggage they bring to the relationship.”

In addition to director John Paul Middlesworth, who doubles as set and sound designer for the show, the Free Association Theatre Ensemble creative team for Jack and Jill includes producer Julya M. Mirro; technical director, properties manager, and stage manager Lormarev Jones; lighting designer: Michael Lefler; and costume designers Julya Mirro, Noelle Barnard, and Lormarev Jones.

“A notable feature of the script is the presence of ‘Changers,’ who set the furniture, move props, and assist with onstage costume changes,” explains director John Paul Middlesworth. “They are — by the playwright’s design — more obvious than traditional stagehands. They’re played by Jillian Lefler, Nicola Lefler, and James McNatton….

“Taking a cue from the play’s nursery-rhyme title, the set pieces resemble building blocks,” says Middlesworth. “The Changers arrange them to serve as sofas, chairs, a bed, and a kitchen counter. The ‘block’ theme is further continued on the scene behind the characters, being an abstract arrangement of squares of various sizes.

“On the surface,” Middlesworth says, “[Jack and Jill] is a series of dialogues between two characters, a relationship that develops and runs into problems. The challenge is to coordinate all that has to happen as we move from one short scene to another — the characters change costumes on stage, the Changers move props, and it all has to be carefully choreographed.”

The Free Association Theatre Ensemble presents JACK AND JILL at 8 p.m. June 10, 11, and 16-18 at 267 Grande Heights Dr., Cary, North Carolina 27513, in the Harrison Pointe Shopping Center.

TICKETS: $15 ($10 students and educators, seniors, and active-duty military personnel).

BOX OFFICE: 919/228-8184 or





The Play: (Samuel French, Inc.).

The Script: (Google Books).

The Playwright: (Wikipedia) and ( Playwrights’ Database).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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