Polk State College will present “Picnic” at its Fine Arts Theatre, beginning with a free preview Feb. 2.
“Picnic,” by William Inge, tells the story of a Labor Day picnic that begins as a relaxing event for a group of neighbors. What could be an afternoon of simple fun, however, soon becomes a dramatic tangle of one-sided romantic interests and broken hearts.
Paul Newman made his Broadway debut in “Picnic” when it premiered in 1953. He originally wanted to play the lead character of Hal, but was instead cast as Hal’s former college roommate, Alan Seymour. Newman understudied the leading role, eventually taking it over from Ralph Meeker.
“Picnic,” of course, was merely the beginning of Newman’s storied acting career. His list of landmark films include 1969’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” 1973’s “The Sting,” and 2002’s “Road to Perdition.”
“Picnic” ended its original run in 1954 after 477 performances. According to Internet Broadway Database, the play was revived for several weeks in 1994, starring such Hollywood stars as Tate Donovan and Ashley Judd.
“Picnic” is an entertaining performance that will touch the hearts of attendees of all ages, said Paul Carbonell, the show’s producer and a professor of speech and theater.
“It’s a love story. Usually love stories are intriguing, especially when they’re in triangles. This play has three, four, maybe even five triangles of love, and there is conflict within each of them. It seems, too, as if the mother in the play is rethinking the choices she’s made in her lifetime. The ultimate story is about parents letting their children become adults, and that letting go is hard,” Carbonell said.
“If you’re a sister and you like your sister’s boyfriend, you’ll get it. If you’re a mother who has a teenager who is dating, and you’re watching your baby become a woman and you’re horrified, you’ll get it. And there’s lots of fun stuff in there for guys, too.”
In addition to Carbonell, the cast and crew of “Picnic” includes:
Mrs. Potts: Marguerite Berrios
Madge: Leisa Englert
Irma: Leah Gardner
Flo: Amanda LeVasseur
Millie: Devon Maver
Howard: Baron Simmons
Hal: Austin Thomas
Christine: LaPassion Webster
Rosemary: Erika Williams
Alan: Charlie Sigler
Bomber: Gregory Yang
Costumes: Jennifer Kellett
Assistant for sets: Michael King
Stage manager: Sydney Reynolds
Technical director: James Sharp
Lights: Charlie Sigler
Sound: Emmanuel Stewart
The free preview on Feb. 2 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. “Picnic” will also be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, 4, 7-10.
Admission is free for high school students and Polk State College students, faculty and staff. Tickets are $5 for the general public. The box office opens 30 minutes prior to each show.
The Fine Arts Theatre is located on the Winter Haven campus, 999 Ave. H N.E.
To purchase tickets in advance, contact Sharon Bevis at email@example.com or 863-297-1050.