“Family Ties” on stage?
World premiere in Dayton, Ohio?
Cast includes a famous Brady sister?
Yes and yes and yes! Here’s the story:
A VISIT TO DAYTON
Daniel Goldstein had only been to Dayton once, but the visit made quite an impression.
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“I came out to see ‘Snapshots’ at The Human Race Theatre some years ago and loved the theater,” explains the New York playwright. The musical, by well-known composer Stephen Schwartz, was on stage at The Loft in 2007.
“I loved the space and the people were very nice,” Goldstein recalls. “The theater was professional and elegant.” So when it was time to pick an Ohio theater for a new play he’d been commissioned to write, Goldstein immediately recommended Dayton’s 30-year-old professional theater company.
>> MORE: Human Race voted Best of Dayton
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Fast forward to today. Now showing at The Loft through June 25 is “Family Ties.” The play is based on the popular 1980’s CBS television series “Family Ties.”
The new play features the familiar characters — Steven and Elyse Keaton and their offspring — but takes place 20 years later in a modern setting.
Because the TV show was set in Columbus, the producers liked the idea of premiering the new stage version in Ohio.
In his play, Alex P. Keaton, the Michael J. Fox character, is now running for Congress and returns to his parents’ Columbus home with his sisters, Mallory and Jennifer, who are parents of their own. There are flashbacks to some of the iconic moments from their childhood.
“Not everyone in the audience will know the television show, ” Goldstein acknowledges, “but everyone will relate to the exploration of what it’s like to become a parent, to become the grownup when you’re used to being the kid. Alex is now 41 and coming into his own.”
JAN BRADY IS THE MOM!!
Fans of the TV classic “The Brady Bunch” will be delighted to learn that Elyse Keaton will be portrayed by Eve Plumb, who played middle daughter Jan Brady in the popular 1970’s sitcom.
Plum made television history with the iconic line — “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” — that centered around her jealousy of her older sister.
“A good sit-com mixes humor with pathos,” says the actress, adding that both “Family Ties” and “The Brady Bunch” succeeded in accomplishing that goal. These days shows like “Modern Family” and “The Middle” do the same, she says. “In long-running shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ you get to see the characters develop over time. People get attached to them.”
A devoted TV fan, Plumb believes there’s a lot of “good stuff” on today. “There’s a lot to be learned, I watch a lot of documentaries,” she adds.
Plumb began acting as a child and has worked in TV, film and on stage ever since. She was attracted to the stage version of “Family Ties” because it seemed like an interesting new piece of theater — not merely stage versions taken from the original TV scripts.
“We’ve all watched the original series because we want to capture the flavor of the show,” she says. “We don’t want to impersonate the characters but we do want to preserve the family banter and the exploration of what family members mean to one another. “
And what does she hope people will take away from seeing this version of “Family Ties?” “I hope the audience will leave with a happy memory of the show and will be happy to revisit it,” she says. “It will be like going to a family reunion.”
BROADWAY ACTOR AS ALEX P. KEATON
Even without seeing the script of “Family Ties,” actor Jim Stanek said “I’m in!”
Stanek, who understudied Michael Cerveris on Broadway in the Tony-award winner musical “Fun Home,” loved “Family Ties” on TV so much that he jumped at the chance to play the Michael J. Fox character.
“The play really captures the essence of the show,” he says. “It does depict some excerpts from the TV show in flashbacks but it’s a contemporary new story that’s being told at the same time. Even if you don’t know ‘Family Ties,’ this show tells a beautiful story about family. "
At the moment, he’s excited about re-creating Alex on stage for the first time. As a teen, he says, Alex had a big ego and a lot of charm. “He’s matured since then and what’s changed is how he looks at the big picture,” he says. “He’s about to enter a new era of selflessness — or isn’t he?”
“Family Ties” is directed by Kevin Moore. The six-member cast also includes Lawrence Redmond, Thea Brooks, Sara Mackie and Maggie Lou Rader.
WANT TO GO?
What: “Family Ties,” a world premiere by Daniel Goldstein based on the CBS television series and produced by special arrangement with Araca Media & Entertainment under license from CBS Consumer Products.
When: June 1 through June 25.
Where: The Human Race Theatre Company, 126 N. Main St. (between First and Second streets)
Tickets: Prices from $35-$50 for adults; $32-$46 for seniors and $17.50-$25 for students. Prices vary depending upon performance dates.
Discounts: Select side-area seats are available in advance for $12 and $25 at all performances; on “Sawbuck Sunday” at 7 p.m. on June 4 $10 seats are available for walk up sales only.
Related info: On Thursday, June 1 there will be an “Inside Track” pre-show discussion; on opening night, June 2, there will be a post-show lobby party. “Lite Fare at the Loft,” pre-show lobby dining, is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6. At 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 11, there will be a post-show talk back, “While We’re on the Subject.”