Merrill Community Theater presents Over the River and Through the Woods
Dinner theatre production brings a little bit of Italy to Merrill
TINA L. SCOTT
Merrill Community Theater, which was on hiatus during COVID, returned with a dinner theatre play that brought a little bit of Italy to Merrill, with two shows each on Aug. 22 and Aug. 28. Held at the Sawmill Brewery in Merrill, the group presented Over the River and Through the Woods, described as a heartwarming play about the three F’s of first-generation Italian grandparents – faith, family, and food.
Written by Joe DiPietro and directed by Larry Kirchgaessner of Wausau, at its heart, the play was about relationships between first-generation Italian grandparents and their grandson, Nicky.
The play’s cast included Chris Hahn [as Nicky], Aaron Kremin, Jeff McDonald, Darlaen Jansen, Kevin Erickson, Alyssa Hahn, and Rachel Bergmann.
Theater spokesperson, Ed Kemery, shared the plot: Nicky received a job offer that would require a move far away from them [to Seattle]. Not wanting him to leave [New Jersey], the family concocted a scheme to entice him to stay. “They set him up with the lovely Caitlyn and use all the Italian charm they can muster to convince their darling Nicky to stick around,” Kemery said.
“As he wrestles with his decision to stay or go, he faces the tough question of ‘How much do you owe the people who care for you? How much is enough?’” the show’s teaser read.
The play also explored the generational differences related to the characters’ concepts of family and home and what Italians mean by “Tengo Familia.”
The dinner events included delizioso Italian food and non-alcoholic beverages, along with a cash bar.
The early shows featured an Italian brunch prior to the show and Italian desserts during intermission including: cannoli, tiramisu cupcakes, and anginetti cookies. [All taste-tested by cast members.] The later shows included antipasto hors d’oeuvres – Italian kabob, smoked deviled eggs, and a cucumber rye sandwich – with the same Italian desserts at intermission.
The first show completely sold out, with the third coming very close, and the other two shows were well attended, as well.