• Familiar and new actors perform.
By Randi Somers
Once you have soared above the clouds in a lawn chair, what do you do for an encore — and with the rest of your life? The play being staged at Pier One Theatre last weekend and next, explores a man’s choices 16 years after his big adventure.
“UP,” written by Bridget Carpenter, is loosely based on a real man’s experience. In 1982, Larry Walters (“the lawn chair guy”) tied 42 helium-filled weather balloons to his lawn chair in San Pedro, Calif. His backyard launch carried him 15,000 feet aloft for four hours, over the controlled airspace of Los Angeles International Airport, causing some confusion and concerns for commercial jet pilots and air traffic controllers.
In the play, Griffin, based on Walters, (played by Peter Norton) is motivated by another real person, Phillipe Petit, who captured fame (and notoriety) with his unauthorized tight wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in the 1970s. Petit’s daring stunt made him Walter Griffin’s (the playwright’s name for the real-life Larry Walters) hero.
“UP” examines the life of Griffin after his notable flight. He is still trying to succeed as an inventor, but has not been able to come up with anything to duplicate or top the success and notoriety of his lawn chair flight.
His wife and son are negatively affected by his efforts which keep him too busy to get a real job. She delivers mail for a living and he pretends to find a job in a town he invents, withdrawing money from their savings account for his pretend paychecks.
His 15-year-old son succeeds in getting a well-paying job selling over the phone but then gives his huge pay check to a pregnant girl he has befriended and wants to marry. She and her aunt (who had hired him) disappear.
With Lance Petersen directing, the cast, some of whom are new to the stage and to Pier One, turns in memorable performances.
In addition to Peter Norton in the lead role, they are Christy Russ as his wife Helen, Matthew Meyer playing their son Mikey and Audrey Russell (new to the stage) as Mikey’s pregnant friend Maria.
Hannah Heimbuch plays Maria’s aunt Chris and also Helen’s mother and Megan DeCino plays three roles; UPS delivery person, firefighter and San Pedro High School student. Norton also voices the spirit of the tight rope walker Petit.
UP was staged May 31, June 1, 2 before goodly crowds and plays again for four nights this weekend June 6 through 9. All shows start at 7:30 p.m.
General admission tickets are $14, with discounts for seniors, students and contributors. Tickets are on sale at the Homer Bookstore and at the door. For reservations, call 907-235-7333.
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