For A Great Evening, Plan To See Colony’s Family Planning

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(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Bruce Weitz, Jack Sundmacher, Dee Ann Newkirk and Christina Pickles star in the Colony Theatre's World Premiere production of "FAMILY PLANNING,"  (Photo Courtesy of Michael Lamont)
Bruce Weitz, Jack Sundmacher, Dee Ann Newkirk and Christina Pickles star in the Colony Theatre’s World Premiere production of “FAMILY PLANNING,” (Photo Courtesy of Michael Lamont)

Family Planning launches The Colony Theatre’s 40th season with explosions of laughter. Playwright MICHELLE KHOLOS BROOKS has crafted a first-rate romantic comedy, firmly anchored in real-life, with a sober undertone beneath the bright and sparkling dialogue.

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Michael (JACK SUNDMACHER) snuggles with his wife Sidney (DEE ANN NEWKIRK), forgetting his business struggles for a few precious moments. These lovebirds, now in their early 40s, had moved back into the house of Sidney’s long-divorced parents to keep the Great Recession wolf at bay.

 Dee Ann Newkirk and Bruce Weitz star in the Colony Theatre's World premiere production of "FAMILY PLANNING," written by Michelle Kholos Brooks and directed by Cameron Watson and now playing at the Colony Theatre in Burbank (Photo Courtesy of Michael Lamont)

Dee Ann Newkirk and Bruce Weitz star in the Colony Theatre’s World premiere production of “FAMILY PLANNING,” written by Michelle Kholos Brooks and directed by Cameron Watson and now playing at the Colony Theatre in Burbank (Photo Courtesy of Michael Lamont)

One little problem. Actually, two big ones. The parents are moving back in. Larry (Emmy-winning BRUCE WEITZ, who was Mick Belker in the TV series Hill Street Blues) has turned into a laid back New Ager. And he still feels entitled to second-guess son-in-law Michael based on his earlier life as a hustling entrepreneur. And Diane (Emmy-nominated CHRISTINA PICKLES, who was Nurse Helen Rosenthal in the TV series Saint Elsewhere) still knows how to drive her daughter Sidney nuts. (And Diane beautifully sets up a hilarious comeback line from Sidney.)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

All four actors are great. And when Diane and Larry lock horns with each other, it’s pure theatrical bliss. Director CAMERON WATSON seamlessly blends the physical and verbal comedy, and these two veteran actors have an absolute ball.

Playwright Michelle had explored similar domestic themes before but “the characters were still there and Family Planning surfaced.”  Surfaced, that is, after development at the workshop level and further honing with Cameron as the world premiere date at the Colony neared.  The perspiration paid off.

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(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Of superstar playwright Neil Simon, Wikipedia states, “Simon’s facility with dialogue gives his stories a rare blend of realism, humor and seriousness which audiences find easy to identify with.” The same praise applies to Family Planning.

So theatergoers, keep your eye on Michelle Kholos Brooks. She’s on her way to becoming the next Neil Simon.

Family Planning continues through Sunday, August 10. Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $20 to $49. The Colony Theatre is at 555 North Third Street (at Cypress), next to the Burbank Town Center Mall. For tickets, call the box office at 818-558-7000 ext. 15, or go online at www.ColonyTheatre.org.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)