Larry Cook and Lauren Leinhaas-Cook in Virginia Repertory Theatre's production of "I Do! I Do!" (Photo by Jay Paul)
Fifty years of marriage is definitely something to sing about, though realistically portraying a half-century of marriage could prove difficult for most actors. Having 29 years of experience under your ring band might help.
In 1951, “Fourposter” by playwright Jan de Hartog, won the Tony Award for Best Play. In 1966, the creators of the Fantasticks, Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, transformed the play into the musical “I Do! I Do!” But, now the play is wedding this musical with a new twist – a real, contemporary couple is depicting the fictitious, early 20th-century marriage.
Lauren Leinhaas-Cook and Larry Cook draw inspiration from their decades of marital experience in Virginia Repertory Theatre's production of “I Do! I Do!” which opens Feb. 26 at Hanover Tavern and runs through April 10 as a part of the Acts of Faith Theatre Festival.
The Cooks' stage dynamic is built on chemistry you can’t develop in rehearsing, says Bruce Miller, Virginia Rep’s artistic director and the director of this show.
“I think since we have been married for so long, we don’t have to work at the relationship and can focus on other parts of the characters,” Larry Cook says.
Respecting the other's space and letting go of grudges has been the key to the Cooks’ successful marriage, they say. They’ve enjoyed the arguments within this play, because they don’t fight (just occasionally argue).
“They already have a great short-hand with each other and with me as well,” Miller says.
“After being married for 29 years, and dating for three years prior to marriage, you develop a kind of telepathy … we sort of know what the other is thinking,” says Leinhaas-Cook.
The marriage in the play, although dated, draws a lot of parallels to the Cooks’ relationship. In addition, the Cooks say, the younger members of the audience will see characteristics of their parents, while older patrons will think about their lives.
A marriage that begins with unequal partnership in 1895, fueled by a patriarchal American marital history, ends with an equilibrium of understanding. The audience will view a snapshot of the norms of marriage of the past, and make their own determinations of how current ideals of marriage have or have not changed, Miller says.
As the marriage evolves and changes, the set's furniture will remain a constant, he says. The lack of scenic change allows the audience to rest all of their attention on the characters' transformations.
At the end of the play, Cook thinks his ultra-masculine, “big-baby” of a character learns the lesson all men learn in marriage: the “woman, or other partner, is always in charge.”
Evening performances of the show start at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and matinees start at 2 p.m. on Sunday and select Wednesdays and Saturdays. Tickets are $38, but discounted group rates and student rates are available.
“Saturday Sunday Monday,” another play within the Acts of Faith festival, is running at Virginia Rep's November Theatre through March 6.
For tickets and other information, call 282-2620 or visit va-rep.org.