Theatre Raleigh opened Significant Other by award winning playwright Joshua Harmon on Wednesday night in the Sara Lynn and K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Theatre in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, NC.
The story is light-weight TV-sitcom humorous; but in the second act, it reaches a deeper level, and speaks to the uncertainties of love in the new America of generations called “Greatest,” “Silent,” “Baby Boomer,” “Generation X” (a.k.a. “Thirteeners”), “Millennials,” and “New Silent” (a.k.a. “Generation Z”). In this particular story, the search centers around a gay man named Jordan (played by Jesse R. Gephart) and his three straight female friends.
Director Julia Murney has imbued this show with appropriate pacing, including tender scenes with Grandma, chatty responsiveness, and choreographed blocking up and down the two staircases. There is never a dull moment.
Significant Other is performed on a great two-level set — accommodating the break room in an advertising company’s offices, several different apartments, and other indoor and outdoor areas. Kudos to Chris Bernier for this excellent space, which also allows for quick-and-easy scene changes. enhanced by the lighting of Jenni Mann Becker. And Emily Johns creates numerous outstanding costumes. (The outrageous bridesmaid’s dresses are especially notable.)
Jesse Gephart delivers a powerful, stage-filling portrayal of Jordan, the protagonist of the story, camping and flitting, wringing his hands and touching the bounds of gay histrionics. His second-act monologue moves from comedy to gut-wrenching loneliness in a slope that is hardly expected, descending precipitously into outright despair and pulling tears from the stunned audience.
Jordan’s Grandma, Helene, is played by Barbara Kingsley, who brings years of professionalism to her role. Her obvious love for her grandson, her failing memory, and her wise advice and good humor touch us as with our own grandmas.
Adam Poole tackles three different roles, and creates three distinct characters. Will, the potential love interest, plays his cards very close to the vest, as they say, and may be leading Jordan on, or just being kind. Poole’s other roles are as Conrad and Tony, grooms to two of the girls. One is rough-cut and the other scholarly appearing.
Laura (Emily Bosco) is Jordan’s best friend, but their relationship is tested in a fine spat that they have which delves into friendship way beyond superficially. Bosco is a good match for Gephart in that scene. It tingles.
Melvin Gray, Jr. also essays three roles. Perhaps, the most amusing one is Zach, a fellow gay employee at Jordan’s office, whose morning greeting is always familiarly the same.
Meagan Chieppor and Shayla LaGrange are Kiki and Vanessa, Jordan’s other two close friends whose weddings and pregnancies (or potential ones) are objects of much fun. Both bring liveliness, talent, and dancing skills, along with Gephart and Bosco, to their roles.
Jesse Gephart’s performance alone is sufficient reason to drop in on this entertainment for mature audiences.
SECOND OPINION: June 15th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh BWW Review by Lauren Van Hemert: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-Theatre-Raleighs-Compelling-SIGNIFICANT-OTHER-Strikes-Delicate-Balance-20180615 and June 8th Raleigh, NC BWW Interview with Theatre Raleigh guest director Julia Murney, conducted by Lauren Van Hemert: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Interview-Broadway-Vet-Turned-Director-Julia-Murney-Dishes-About-Theatre-Raleighs-SIGNIFICANT-OTHER-20180608; June 14th Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment review by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2018/06/theatre-raleighs-significant-other-is-in-a-word-perfect/; June 13th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview Byron Woods: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/significant-other/Event?oid=15049185; and June 3rd Raleigh, NC News & Observer mini-preview by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/article212217474.html. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the June 15th Triangle Review review by Pamela Vesper and Kurt Benrud, click
Theatre Raleigh presents SIGNIFICANT OTHER at 8 p.m. June 15, 2 and 8 p.m. June 16, 3 p.m. June 17, 8 p.m. June 20-22, 2 and 8 p.m. June 23, and 3 p.m. June 24 in the Sara Lynn and K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Theatre in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $32 ($30 students, seniors 60+, and active-duty military personnel), except $20 per person for groups of 10 or more.
BOX OFFICE: 919-832-9997, email@example.com, or https://theatreraleigh.secure.force.com/ticket/#details_a0S61000005ByinEAC.
SHOW: http://www.theatreraleigh.com/significant-other/ and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/summer-series-2-theatre-raleigh-9180.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAinOgpYfck.
2018 SUMMER SERIES: http://www.theatreraleigh.com/subscribe/.
PRESENTER: http://www.theatreraleigh.com/, https://www.facebook.com/TheatreRaleigh/, https://twitter.com/theatreraleigh?lang=en, and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBrPHqUNhtfRMWQ2Ej8Fxeg/featured.
PARKING/MAP: http://www.theatreraleigh.com/location-parking/ and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/parking.
Significant Other (2015 Off-Broadway and 2017 Broadway comedy): https://www.samuelfrench.com/p/59657/significant-other (Samuel French, Inc.), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/significant-other-509695 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Significant_Other_(play) (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: https://issuu.com/geffenplayhouse/docs/significantother-studyguide (Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, CA).
Joshua Harmon (playwright): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/joshua-harmon-509697 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm6274897/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Harmon_(playwright) (Wikipedia).
Julia Murney (director): http://www.juliamurney.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/julia-murney-101469 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0614000/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Murney (Wikipedia).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on Amazon.com. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori previously reviewed theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.