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Willmar Barn Theatre Review: The never-empty nest

Dana Anderson is cast in the production of "Alone Together Again" which opens tonight at The Barn Theater in Willmar. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

"Alone Together, Again," directed by Tom Rosengren and now playing at The Barn Theatre in Willmar, is a sentimental comedy about a couple who are finally empty-nesters after raising three rambunctious boys.

Now George and Helena Butler, played by Brenda Santamount and Dana Anderson, find themselves with another house full of family members. A few rings of the phone and doorbell later, their highly anticipated peaceful mid-life has been turned upside down by the arrival of their parents, none of whom have indicated when they will check out of Chez Butler.

This show is full of the classic lines couples use to jockey for position in their relationships. Helena tells George their situation is like being a chopped liver sandwich, feeling caught somewhere between their kids and their parents.

As tensions rise and patience levels fall, Helena and George find themselves "discussing" more and letting the ledger of "things-I-don't-like-about-you" stack up. George tells Helena to "quit remembering so much... there isn't an elephant alive who could hold a candle to you," to which Helena eventually responds: "See how much fun it is to communicate?" George knows, through his apparent "clairvoyance," when Helena says she is "just fine," she is indeed not "fine."

Tim Miller's portrayal of Pop, Helena's high-maintenance father, symbolizes the unique and ever-changing relationship between a parent and their grown children. Pop's futuristic tendencies and household experiments could drive even the most loving daughter mad. Becky Sorenson is the ever-patient and practical wife of Pop. She spends most of the show reminding Pop to keep his doctor appointments, and goes on therapeutic shopping trips.

Nancy Geiger's portrayal of Grace, George's mother, as a sweet and delightful "I won't be any trouble" kind of parent reminds us of the choices made regarding familial responsibility versus personal preference for peace and quiet.

The warm, welcoming and detailed set by Colin Wasmund will give the audience the feeling they are right there in the midst of the delightful chaos of "Alone Together, Again." The theme and language makes for a good "couples" show.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and Feb. 17-19, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Feb. 20. For tickets, contact The Barn box office at 320-235-9500.

Beverly L. Knudsen, master of arts, Department of History, St. Cloud State University, has reviewed shows for The Barn Theatre in Willmar and the Little Theatre in New London. She has acted and done costuming for the Little Theatre and was a production assistant at the Ridgewater College theater.