By Diana Son
Directed by Liz Loftus
Starring Allie Champagne and Kaitlyn Dunn
Rocking Horse Youth Theatre
Presented at The Master Class Academy, Winter Park FL
This show seems to pop up everywhere. Maybe it the straight-forward plot, or the simple production values, or just the touching story, but it’s a perennial. Callie (Champagne) agrees to watch Sara’s (Dunn) cat while she works a 2 year fellowship teaching in a Bronx grade school. Sara is perky and thoughtful, her kids soon fall in love with her and she’s loving the feel good sabbatical of disadvantaged kids in the bad part of town where she makes a difference. Callie’s more cynical; she rides a traffic copter and struggles with the existential question: If you own a car, what the heck are you doing in NYC? The girls hit it off, do the bar scene, hang out with Callie’s semi live-in occasional Friend with Benefits George (Jacob LaJoie.) After a while the obvious becomes apparent – the girls are in love, and on more than BBF terms. All is well and good until they make out in the park at 4:30 a.m. at which point some thugs beat Sara senseless and leave her in a coma. Can this love survive, or is it all for show?
Written in the late 1990’s “Stop Kiss” is beginning to acquire some moss: subtle hints of the early days of the digital revolution stick out and while gays still get beat upon, this show is feeling a bit dated. Still, the two girls have enough chemistry to make it all believable, and their approach and coupling is gentle and discreet. The men aren’t as well drawn, George seems less interested in Callie than a normal 20 something guy, and Detective Cole (Mitchell Lassiter) lacks the confident bluster to be a police officer. I like Jordyn Colman as the 911 dialing neighbor, she’s got some back story that’s not coming out, and she was the supporting character I really cared about.
One issue with this show is its construction – there are multiple small scenes, each accompanied by a costume change and some furniture moving. At first it’s all good fun but by the second act you just want to yell at the stage hands “leave the damn folding table alone!” After all, this is theater not television, and you don’t have three cameras and an editing suite to speed up the action. Still, for a youth production, it’s not a bad offering, the acting was engaging and the stumbling in the dark, well, isn’t that what sex is all about?
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