That’s The Way It Is

. August 27, 2019.
Theater-Notes--Walter-Cronkite

Village Players to perform timely comedy Walter Cronkite is Dead

There may be no play more timely than Joe Calarco’s Walter Cronkite Is Dead, a comedy staged at the Village Players Theatre beginning September 6. In an era when political debate is often reduced to shouting matches and neither side bothers to even listen before responding, Cronkite’s tale of a pair of mismatched seatmates at an airport comes as a hilarious breath of fresh air.

“A poignant comedy about two ladies who are stranded in an airport due to bad weather. They’re forced to sit together because it’s so crowded. And they have two very different political views— they come from different backgrounds,” explains Dave Nelms, director of the Village Players’ production.

Over the course of the show, the two characters— a constantly-talking Southerner who wears her red-state sympathies on her sleeve, and a more reserved Washingtonian who is staunchly liberal— argue, debate, make assumptions and finally, after many drinks from a shared bottle of wine, find a bit of common ground. They may not understand each other, but they listen and try to understand where the other is coming from.

“It’s very well-written, and it’s timely with what’s going on politically today. Even though we may not see eye to eye politically, if we took the time to sit down and actually talk, then we’d find out that maybe we have a lot in common,” Nelms said.

Accomplished actresses

Director Nelms read the show before it was selected by the Village Players Committee to become a Toledo production. As rehearsals progress, Nelms said that one of his greatest pleasures is observing the work of his two lead performers: Fran Martone and Anne Cross, both longtime veterans of area stage productions.

“I’m fortunate to have two very accomplished actresses, and it’s been a real delight to work with them,” Nelms said. “They’re doing a really good job of inhabiting these characters, even though they might not hold the same beliefs as their characters.”

Walter Cronkite is a relatively minimal production— Martine and Cross make up the whole cast, and the set consists of two chairs where the seated pair hold long conversations. The jam-packed airport is implied through the show’s sound design and dialogue.

“The soundscape has typical airport noise, delay calls and background crowd sounds. The soundscape sets that stage at the beginning, so you get the idea,” Nelms adds. “The play’s really well crafted, so you get the idea that the lounge is really full.”

Time to listen

In the real world, of course, the deeply held beliefs that divide Americans cannot be reconciled over the course of an hour of conversation and a bottle of wine. But watching Walter Cronkite Is Dead gives viewers a sense that despite our differences, we have much more in common than we all think, and we all could exhibit a bit more empathy.

“If we just sometimes take the time to listen to what another person is saying, we may not agree with them, but maybe we’ll have a little understanding of where they’re coming from. We do learn throughout the course of the play about some of the characters’ background, and their history, and some of it’s funny, some of it’s tragic. But they still discover things they have in common,” Nelms said.

September 7-14
8pm, Thursday-Saturdays | 2pm, Sundays
$20, adults | $18, seniors and students
The Village Players Theatre, 2740 Upton Ave.
419-472-6817 | Thevillageplayers.org