Southern Comforts Provides Romance

“Amanda” (Michael Learned) and “Gus” (Granville Van Dusen) in “Southern Comforts” at the Falcon Theatre.

Southern Comforts contains gentle laughs, romance, and fine performances as it looks at a second chance for love between two mature adults. Wistful and sweetly romantic, the play thoughtfully examines how opposites attract, but then must work to successfully blend those two opposing natures.

Gus (Granville Van Dusen), a grouchy New Jersey widower set in his ways, works on his storm windows, only to be interrupted by the appearance of a pretty, Southern widow (Michael Learned), charming and chatty. Thrown together during a heavy thunderstorm, the two hit it off and begin a tentative romance. Are both willing to take risks on building a relationship?

Director Jules Aaron builds a nice rhythm into the scenes, with fine timing and slow burns and reactions between the two member cast. Aaron realistically develops the tentative relationship in slow, graceful give and takes, but some choreography seems occasionally off, with the couple standing around awkwardly speaking lines.

Learned and Van Dusen work well together, and possess a fine chemistry. Van Dusen keeps the relationship off guard with his hesitant reactions and uncertainty, hiding a gentle yearning under an uptight exterior. Learned brings a flirty but direct playfulness to Amanda. She’s willing to take risks without compromising her values.

The design staff greatly enhances the production with their work. Dan Weingarten creates an elaborate, realistic thunderstorm and seasons, complemented by fine sound work. Keith E. Mitchell’s gorgeous old bungalow set and Kim DeShazo’s elegant costumes also add detailed atmosphere.

The Falcon Theatre presents Southern Comforts Wednesdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through Nov. 13 at the Falcon Theatre located at 4252 Riverside Dr. in Burbank. Tickets cost $34.50–$37 Wednesday/Thursday, $39.50–$42 Friday/Saturday/Sunday, with a $27 student rate with valid ID. Tickets can be purchased online at www.falcontheatre.com, or call (818) 955-8101.

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