John Szablewski Previews

First Look: ‘Dearly Departed’ at Aurora Players

The cast of ‘Dearly Departed’ at Aurora Players. Photo by Dori-Shear McGowan

As storytellers, directors often connect to plays that they have had awesome experiences with. This includes seeing a fantastic production and wanting to bring it to life for a new audience, or perhaps acting in a production of a show that they loved. Directors have a big responsibility when it comes to choosing their stories. If they don’t have some passion in what they are creating for the audience, it will be easily seen during the show. Nobody likes to sit through anything with a lack of enthusiasm.

Eighteen years ago, director Christopher Fire was lucky enough to perform in a production of “Dearly Departed,” a little known gem of a play written by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones, about a family who’s patriarch has just passed away and they must gather, leaving their own lives and coming together to mourn their loss. Oh yeah, the story also takes place in the backwoods of the bible belt in the American south.

The topic of death typically does not scream comedy, but this show takes a dense topic and brings a humanity to it.

“I think this is a show that the audiences at Aurora Players will be pleasantly surprised with,” says Fire, “It has heart, and it is a very funny show.”

“Dearly Departed” is a major divergence from the typical fare that is presented at Aurora Players. “There is no name recognition with this show,” says Fire, “this isn’t an Agatha Christie, or a Ken Ludwig, this show is not very well known, but is very entertaining.”

When it comes to community theatre, shows that have that accent, usually the British accent, are the ones that get performed the most. “This show has a different accent,” says Fire, “there are no refined characters in this piece, there are no high societal characters, just everyday broken people looking to live their best lives.

Fire says that this show is not one that has a recognizable leading character. “What drew me to this show was that people worked together and the ensemble made it memorable, that is something I truly love about the story.

While he loves the classics that Aurora Players typically performs, he wanted to mix things up a bit. “I wanted to submit something that would be different, and I am a firm believer that people will like this show because it is off the beaten path and many people will be able to relate to it. Variety is the spice of life!”

“Dearly Departed” opens May 31 and runs until June 16, 2019. It is presented at The Roycroft Pavilion in Hamlin Park in East Aurora. For more information, click here.