Director Lori Adams has announced her cast for the play Falling by Deanna Jent, to be performed at Heartland Theatre from November 6 to 23, 2014.
For Heartland, Adams' cast will feature Karen Hazen, who played the lead roles in Middletown and Earth and Sky, as Tami Martin, and Rhys Lovell, who starred opposite Hazen in Middletown and most recently directed and acted in My Fair Lady for Prairie Fire Theatre, as her husband Bill. Illinois State University students Daniel Esquivel and Ashley Pruitt will play their children, with Esquivel as Josh, the Martins' severely autistic son, and Pruitt as Lisa, the daughter who wishes her family life were not quite so challenging. Ann Bastian White, who created the senior acting troupe Young at Heartland and recently appeared in New Plays from the Heartland, will portray Grammy Sue, the relative whose visit precipitates change and disruption in the Martin's carefully balanced household.
Jent has often noted that the play's central question is how you love someone who is extremely difficult to love. Falling is semi-autobiographical, in that Jent herself has an autistic son and has confronted first-hand the tangle of educational, legal and medical issues for a family dealing with autism. And every autistic child is different. As she says, when you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism. There are no easy answers and no simple remedies that suit every family, no sure-fire way to catch a mother or father who fears falling down on this parenting job.
Adams directed the world premiere of Falling at the Mustard Seed Theatre in St. Louis in 2012, as well as the play's off-Broadway production at Minetta Lane later that year. Falling was named Outstanding New Play at St. Louis's Kevin Kline Awards in 2012. At Minetta Lane, the play was nominated for three Drama Desk awards, including Outstanding Play for Jent, Outstanding Actress in a Play for Julia Murney, who played Tami, and Outstanding Actor in a Play for Daniel Everidge, who played Josh.
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