'Same Time, Next Year' kicks off Curtain Call's 2021 season with romantic comedy

Curtain Call is back in action, with “Same Time, Next Year” kicking off their 2021 theater season.

The comedy written by Canadian playwright, Bernard Slade follows the story of how a one-night-stand evolved into a 25 year relationship. The comedy had a four year run on Broadway and will have a three-night run in Stamford starting Feb. 25.

“Over the past 10 months, I’ve read dozens of two-person shows to suit our special needs right now,” said Curtain Call executive director, Lou Ursone, “but I kept coming back to one of my favorites, Same Time, Next Year.” He added, “I happen to like the show a lot. There are lots of laughs and some very moving moments as we see these characters evolve over the course of 25 years."

Ursone said “Same Time, Next Year” is unique among romantic comedies, because the long-time lovers are married...just not to each other. It just so happens that Curtain Call’s co-stars - Paul and Sophie Tiesler - really are married to each other.

“Due to the many safety concerns regarding COVID-19, our best shot at creating any kind of programming was to pick small-cast shows like this (and ‘The Gin Game,’ which we did last fall) using actors who live together. Luckily, I've worked with many great actor couples over the years, so casting these shows is not that difficult,” Ursone said.

This is the first time the Tieslers have gotten to act opposite each other, but they said they’re enjoying the opportunity. “It’s so special to have the ultimate trust in your scene partner. It just adds a level of authenticity and intimacy that is so rarely achieved, said Sophie. Paul added, “It’s a real treat to get to ‘play’ with your better half...it’s quite fun to randomly run lines in the midst of day to day life.”

Playing opposite a spouse is not uncommon nor is it without its challenges. “The only downside is Paul has to deal with me being a little bossy about lines! Sometimes I get carried away because he’s my husband, so I need to be more respectful and patient,” said Sophie. Paul agreed, saying, “The biggest challenge is recognizing you still need to separate the two a bit i.e. this is my scene partner not my wife and vice versa.”

In order to keep cast and crew as safe as possible, in person rehearsals have been limited but will increase as the production draws nearer. Sophie explained, “We’ve arranged our living room to match the set and done a lot of Zoom rehearsals, and when we are in the theatre, it’s just Paul and me, and our director and stage manager, and both couples quarantine together so it’s absolutely the safest possible production we could be working on.”

Richard Mancini, who directed last season’s “Cactus Flower” and other productions at Curtain Call, will direct the show. "Same Time, Next Year has been a classic for nearly four decades now. It’s my first time directing it (although I did stage Slade’s follow-up, the plainly titled 'Romantic Comedy,' a couple of years ago)," said Mancini. "As a two-character romantic comedy, ‘Same Time, Next Year’ is a perfect show to bring live theatre back with," he added.

"We’re really excited to be able to do a live show for a live audience, at a time when most local theatres can’t because their houses aren’t large enough to accommodate a safely distanced audience," Mancini said.

The Tieslers share the same enthusiasm for the play as Mancini and Ursone. “I love how it does a wonderful job of bringing to life the really important parts about love and partnership. These characters change a lot in 25 years but they change with each other - ‘it’s a truly beautiful thing to know someone that well’ as George says,” said Sophie. Paul added, “It’s ultimately about two people who love each other and it’s so special to watch them grow and change together.”

Performances of “Same Time, Next Year” will be held in The Kweskin Theatre in Stamford Feb. 25, 26 and 27, at 8 pm and Feb. 28, at 2 pm. For more information, visit curtaincallinc.com .