If you’ve never been to the Maverick Theater in Fullerton, give yourself a post holiday present and take in the February run of Prelude to a Kiss. The Pulitzer and Tony-nominated comedy written by Craig Lucas is the story of two young lovers whose whirlwind romance and new marriage takes an unexpected turn when an unknown old man happens upon the wedding reception and congratulates the young bride with a kiss.
With this kiss newlywed bride, Rita, and the old man become bound in a magical twist of fate that sends Rita and her new husband on a mysterious journey. The true strength of their love is tested beyond the surface connections that first drew them together, awakening each to a painful knowledge of the complexities of love.
Jax DiBenedetto, gracefully navigates Rita’s soulful transformation from young bride to elderly man, not only with body language and vocal inflections, but with her entire being. Ben Green plays Peter as an insecure man who blossoms in Rita’s presence. His adoration lights the way like a beacon in the night toward unraveling the metaphysical wife swap mystery. DiBenedetto and Green exude a magnetic attraction laced with wistful eye contact and playful banter, leading to sultry kisses. Director David Chorley choreographs their physical romance with delicacy suitable for the play’s romantic comedy style and OC’s palate. Like an expensive perfume, there’s a sweet romantic vibe with an underlayment of sexual undertones, making this my pick for a sweet February date night. Get a babysitter and hold hands in the dark as the story unfolds.
Supporting cast members Michael Buss and Sherry Domerego as Rita’s parents add a comfortable blend of humor and plot nuance. Ryan Young as Peter’s boisterous buddy, Taylor, gets lots good laughs but may need a bit of floss to clear the chewing of scenery from his teeth.
Robert Kokol plays The Old Man with a lovely mix of melancholy and joie de vivre. His portrayal of a young Rita encased in an elderly vessel illustrates life’s bittersweet irony. Maybe we can only truly appreciate life as we approach the end of our journey.
The rapport among the three lead actors, their collaboration in bringing alive the humor that Lucas has woven into the characters’ awkward situation, lets the whole story sing. Cast and director have created moments worth savoring. Book your tickets now to surprise your honey with a February theater fling.
When: Through February 19th. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays
Where: Maverick Theater, 110 E. Walnut Ave., Suite B, Fullerton
How much: $20 ($10 for students with I.D.)
Length: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Suitability: Teens and up