Sandy Actors Theatre concludes 2011-12 season with Rabbit Hole

Pulitzer Prize-winning drama opens June 1
by: Rod Stroh, Becca (Kelly Lazenby) and Howie (Arthur Delaney) struggle to go on with their lives after the death of their 4-year-old son, Danny.

Eight months after their 4-year-old son was killed in an accident, Becca and Howie are rife with grief.

Danny had run out into the street after his dog when a teenage driver struck him, and his parents grapple with their heartache in very different ways, fracturing their relationship.

When all they have left of Danny is stuff, Howie fears Becca is erasing him by giving away his clothes and wanting to sell the house, while Becca finds the daily reminders of her son too painful to face.

They must work to rebuild their tainted relationships or risk sinking deeper down the hole.

Yet, despite the tragedy, 'Rabbit Hole,' the David Lindsay-Abaire drama opening at Sandy Actors Theatre on June 1, is a beautiful, hopeful story that delves into the messiness of life and the reconstruction of a family.

'What audience members take away will depend on what they bring - they'll be touched in different ways,' says Susan Nelle, who plays Becca's mother, Nat. 'It's a gorgeous play, and so human.'

Directed by Justin Lazenby, the cast features five SAT newcomers - Kelly Lazenby, Arthur Delaney, Tracy Grant, Nelle and Cole Martin - with Berta Limbaugh, a SAT veteran, as production manager.

Though the Lazenbys are fresh faces to the Sandy theater, Justin was a founding member of Nutz-n-Boltz Theater Company in Boring, and the couple has owned the company since 2006.

'It's definitely a contemporary play and very real,' Justin says. 'Even if you don't identify with a character, you can identify with the emotions. None of the characters are wrong in their thinking, and no one is to blame for the death.'

SAT has traditionally leaned toward comedy, but even though the themes in 'Rabbit Hole' are heavy, there are moments of laughter and joy.

Grant plays Izzy, Becca's younger sister and the comic relief of the play, who she describes as the 'pressure release valve.'

'The characters are rich and fun,' Grant says. 'They struggle, but in the end they learn that what they have is family - however you define it - that love them and stick by them.

'People will see the play and come back. It's really different. You will laugh as much as you cry.'

Added to the mix is Becca's mother, Nat, a bold character who tells it like it is and tries to talk out Danny's death with Becca.

There's also Jason, the teenager who hit Danny, who tries to insert himself into the family to provide comfort.

'It's about staying together, getting through it and beating all odds,' Delaney, the actor playing Howie, says.

'Rabbit Hole' made its premiere at the Pacific Playwrights Festival in 2005 and was the 2007 recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play received several Tony Award nominations, with Cynthia Nixon winning for best actress in a play.

In 2010, the play was adapted into a film starring Nicole Kidman as Becca and Aaron Eckhart as Howie.

'Rabbit Hole' runs through June 24 at SAT, with performances 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. During opening weekend, SAT will offer $2 off all tickets.

Because of the play's adult content and strong language, it is not advised for children under age 13. The theater encourages patrons to call in advance for wheelchair and hearing assistance devices.

If you go

What: Sandy Actors Theatre presents 'Rabbit Hole.'

When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays June 1-24, with doors opening 45 minutes before showtime.

Where: Sandy Actors Theatre at 17433 Meinig Ave. behind ACE Hardware.

Tickets: $15 general admission, $12 for seniors and students and $10 for children 12 and under.

Reservations: 503-668-6834