Butterflies are Free opens at Station Theatre April 27th

Butterflies are Free rehearsal.
Jill (Nicki Hayes) encourages Don (Garrett Pipher) to build a musical life in New York City in the "Butterflies are Free” stage production starting at The Station Theatre in Smiths Falls April 27 and running to May 6. Photo submitted.
Posted on: April 26, 2018

Submitted by The Station Theatre

Mothers should see this play.

It’s about letting go of your children, and propping them up along the way.

It’s witty and wise; you’ll weep and wonder if that’s you up there on stage.

Butterflies are Free is a two-act play written by Leonard Gershe and originally produced in 1969 in New York City. The title is inspired by a passage in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House: “I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies.”

Don Baker is 20-something and blind; since birth, his Mom has looked out for him – dressed him, cooked for him, housed him, watched over him … typical mothering.

As chance has it, a girl comes into his life and introduces him to a few things – sex and independence being the big two. Mom’s not impressed, but with much sighing and murmuring just loudly enough for others to hear “I could absolutely cry!” she agrees he should venture out on his own, find an apartment, and live in New York. A two month trial period has been set between the two of them with no visitation rights by her.

But she can’t stay away. After shopping at Saks, she arrives with bags of shirts and socks only to get there just after another girl has had her way with her son.

Here the witticisms start. Mom probes; 19-year-old Jill Tanner hands it back. But the two deliver messages (you’ll have to come to the play to find out what they are). In the end, because Mrs. Baker loves her son, and Jill is falling in love, each listens to the other.

It’s a short play, but 1960’s costumes, a simple set with barely a bed and a bathtub, plus good lighting and witty dialogue, make it a big-time play in a small, intimate venue. Don is played by Garrett Pipher who first became known to Smiths Falls theatre-goers as Gabriel Grub, a Dickens character; he’s come a long way since then and has honed his craft to the point where he convincingly plays a blind man, in this play.

Nicki Hayes plays the flirty, flighty, messy, disorganized girl-next-door, Jill. Hayes is fairly new to The Station Theatre, recently seen as Vivian in Who Dunit?; she has studied in London, England, ever continuing to put an edge on her talent.

Donna Howard, well-known in theatre circles in Smiths Falls, brings her energy to the role of prim and proper but achingly human Mrs. Baker, Don’s overprotective Mom. Lucas Tennant, aka Wishee Washee in the Theatre’s most recent pantomime, plays Ralph Austin, the loud-mouthed, boorish director of Jill’s play.

The play runs April 27 to May 6 at the Station Theatre in Smiths Falls.