A Passion for Acting Theatre Company is presenting the lighthearted comedy by Katherine DiSavino “Things My Mother Taught Me” at Willow Leaves of Hope on August 7th, 8th, 14th 15th as a dinner theater, and on August 9th and 16th as a lunch time matinee. 

The show's lead characters, Gabe and Olivia, have just driven from New York to Chicago to take up residence in their first apartment together.  Move in day does not go as expected, and high jinx ensue when the young couple’s parents show up to help them move.  Each parent brings their own life experience to play in this lighthearted, yet tender, laugh inducing comedy. 

Molly Nelson plays Olivia Keegan.  She plays a believable fresh faced optimistic young lady embarking on the beginning of a new life with her boyfriend, played by her real-life boyfriend Josh Hogan.  Both young actors have local experience at Mill Race Theatre Company and gave skilled performances.   This is the first time both of them have acted on the Willow Leaves Stage.

Stephan Phanalp plays the couple’s landlord, Max Mirowski.  He has appeared in many shows at Willow Leaves.  An experienced voice and character actor, he found learning a Polish accent an enjoyable challenge for this show.  He brought comedic relief to some of the show’s heavier emotional moments. 

Gregory Andis plays Gabe’s father, Wyatt Lawson, and is also the shows co-director.    He has appeared in two previous Passion for Acting productions, The Miracle Worker, Angel Street, and Anne of Green Gables.  He is an experienced actor with Mill Race Theatre Company as well.  It’s always a treat to hear his booming voice on stage.

Cheryl Baker appears as Lydia Lawson, Gabe’s mother.  She has also appeared in many shows at Willow Leaves and played a believable germophobic mother who is not quite yet willing to give up her baby boy, believing marriage should preclude moving in together. Cheryl found her character a bit unlikable and overprotective, but did not reflect this in her convincing performance.  

Connie Kiviniemi-Baylor co-directed and produced the show, also starring as Olivia’s mother, Karen Keegan.  She portrayed a mother who is afraid her daughter is rushing into living with her boyfriend.  A woman who made her own mistakes early in life, she wants her daughter to play the field and be certain. She brings her usual positive energy to everything she touches.  

Carter Keegan, played by Jason Bowser, gave an energetic laugh inducing performance as Olivia’s father.  He is also a familiar face to patrons of the stage at Willow Leaves.  He was the perfect down to earth balancing foil for his wife’s high-strung energy. He played a particularly convincing drunk scene.

Dinner was delicious, as it always is as far as the food as Willow Leaves is concerned.  Dinner began with a fruited green salad.  For the main course, Salisbury steak was served with mashed potatoes and gravy with an herbed zucchini and squash vegetable blend.  Dessert was cheesecake offered with or without strawberries. 

The show was the perfect antidote to these trying times.  The light tone was the perfect distraction from all the heaviness gong on in the world.  Guests were encouraged to share some of the lessons learned from their own mother’s during dinner.  The show recalled my experiences with my own mother when first setting up housekeeping myself.  Social distancing is enforced, with the number of patrons reduced from the regular capacity.  Masks were also worn when dinner was not in progress. 

You still have four more chances to catch this great show.  As Connie Kiviniemi-Baylor says, “Laughter is the best medicine and we can all use more of that right now.” Call the lovely ladies of Willow Leaves at 812-546-0640.  Tickets are thirty dollars and include dinner and dessert.