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White Rock Players Club presents Sunday dinner – Italian-American style

Lighthearted look at family dynamics in New Jersey runs June 1-18 at Oceana Parc Playhouse
Newcomer to community theatre Adam Arki plays lead Nick Cristano in the family comedy Over the River and Through the Woods, presented by White Rock Players Club June 1-18 at the Oceana Parc Playhouse (1532 Johnston Rd.)

Joe DiPietro’s play Over the River and Through the Woods has been described as “a lighthearted look into family dynamics.”

Latest offering of the White Rock Players club, produced by Charles Buettner and directed by Don Briard, the show runs June 1 to June 18 at the officially renamed White Rock Playhouse – now the Oceana Parc Playhouse – at 1532 Johnston Rd.

Over the River and Through the Woods is the story of a single Italian-American public relations executive, Nick Cristano (Adam Arki), and his sometimes smotheringly close relationship with his grandparents, Nunzio and Emma Cristano (Mike Parker and Joan Koebel) and Frank and Aida Gianelli (director Briard and Sheila Keating), with whom he still eats dinner every Sunday in New Jersey.

Nick loves them and has been able to put up with their fussing and unsolicited advice ever since his parents retired and moved to Florida – but things are about to change.

He’s been offered a dream job as a marketing executive – but it will mean a move to Seattle, far away from the influence of his grandparents.

When he tells them his plans, the news – predictably – goes over like a lead balloon. How could he betray his family’s love for a job in Seattle? More importantly, what can they do to persuade him to stay?

For Aida, the solution to everything is food, while Emma believes in the power of prayer – and the importance of matchmaking through blind dates.

The next time the unsuspecting Nick comes to Sunday dinner, there’s another guest at the table – Caitlin O’Hare (played by Danielle Methner) – a charming young woman who just happens to be single.

With the exception of Arki – a newcomer to community theatre – the cast are no strangers to comedic drama, while Briard, as director, fellow player, and even as designer, decorator and lead builder of the set brings his experience (including directing the WRPC shows Glorious and Quartet) to the table.

“This is a play about the power of family to shape who we are, and who we become,” Briard commented, in a recent media release.

“All of us carry a mental scrapbook of our experiences. Sometimes just a snapshot of an event, sometimes it’s a few words said to us, sometimes it’s a short movie—but all of them carry vestiges of the emotions we felt as they occurred.”

Performances of Over the River and Through the Woods are Wednesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets ($15 Wednesdays and Thursdays, all other days $28 adults, $24 students and seniors) are available at or by calling the box office at 604-536-7535.

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Veteran director Don Briard also appears as grandfather Frank Gianelli in the family comedy Over the River and Through the Woods, presented by White Rock Players Club June 1-18 at the Oceana Parc Playhouse (1532 Johnston Rd.)