SB Stage Company brings ‘California Suite’ to Hollister

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    HOTEL COMEDY Sarah Smith and Charley Gilmore are among the cast of local actors in San Benito Stage Company’s “California Suite.” Photo: Robert Eliason

    If walls could talk, those surrounding a Beverly Hills hotel room would have wondrous stories. 

    Luckily for theater goers, playwright Neil Simon brought four of them to life in his 1970s comedy, California Suite. And Hollister audiences will now get a chance to peek inside Simon’s mind when San Benito Stage Company opens its production of Suite in Hollister on Friday, Feb. 21.  

    Directed by Taunya Barrera and produced by Anne Hall, the play features local actors—Jenny Arbizu, Michael Budd, Nick Fryou, Charley Gilmore, Al Gonzalez, Shirley Murphy and Sarah Smith—and will run for only two weekends at the IOOF Hall, closing on Saturday, Feb. 29. 

    “Neil Simon is known for his many plays set in New York,” Hall said. “And here, he tries his hand at sunny California. His characters are still his classic flawed people, struggling with marriage and fading love, and finding humor and hope even in painful situations.” 

    In Suite, Simon deviates from his usual comedic writing style to capture a more compassionate look on the lives of four couples all staying in the same hotel suite—but at different times. Four short stories comprise the essence of what makes up the play, showing the unpleasant truths often found in relationships: divorced couples, unfaithful husbands, marriages of convenience, and duelling couples sharing a disastrous vacation.

    “There’s so much depth to it,” Fryou said about the show. “It’s both comedy and drama. The characters are very relatable. Audience members will leave this show with a deeper thinking of the complexities of human relationships; both the good and bad ones.” 

    And Smith believes it’s these contrasts in dynamics that will help audiences relate to the storylines. 

    “There is a lot of realism in there,” she said. “I think each scene will be relevant to somebody. Somebody will relate to at least one of the scenes in the show.” 

    Snacks will be provided for guests, and guests can also enjoy the hors d’oeuvres and drinks available for purchase. 

    “It’s only $20 for an evening of live entertainment and fun,” Hall said. “Show your support for the local arts and be entertained at the same time. Bring a date or a group of friends.” 

    With a cast that’s been rehearsing since December, Barrera said the show has only become stronger after moving into their performance space at the IOOF. 

    “Rehearsing with a set and props in the venue really helped solidify things for us,” she said. “We’re excited to share this production with an audience.” 

    As her directorial debut show, Barrera has especially become fond of this beloved classic.

    “There are some great jokes in this play, but there is also a good deal of humanity,” she said. “It’s touching and honest—I hope the audience enjoys it as much as I’ve enjoyed directing it.”

    California Suite will be performing five shows: Feb. 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 8pm, and Feb. 23 at 2pm at the IOOF Hall in Hollister, 330 4th St. Doors open 30 minutes prior to performances. Tickets are available at Mars Hill Coffeehouse, Postal Graphics, or online at brownpapertickets.com. Cost is $20.This play is rated PG-13 for adult humor. For information, visit www.sanbenitostage.org or call 831.636.0122.

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