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Randall Theatre presents 'Same Time Next Year'

The best relationships — the ones that last over time — possess a bond of real friendship and shared experiences that become as important as the initial physical attraction. What begins as love at first sight gets even better as passion becomes less urgent.

“Same Time Next Year,” the award-winning romantic comedy by Bernard Slade, is about that kind of long-term relationship. Except Doris and George are each married to another, and their trysts are limited to once a year.

Throughout the course of “Same Time Next Year,” we eavesdrop on the couple’s yearly rendezvous, dropping in at five-year intervals from the romance’s beginning at a remote Northern California Inn in 1951 through its 25-year course. We see how Doris's and George’s hopes, dreams and respective marriages change, along with the profound social changes that spanned those years.

“Same Time Next Year” opens at Randall Theatre Company, 10 Third St., at 7 p.m. Friday, March 13. Randall’s traditional opening night gala starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets to the gala cost $15 and include hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Other performances are at 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays through March 29.

Reserved seats cost $15 and can be purchased online at randalltheatre.com or by calling 541-632-3258. Pay-what-you-want tickets will be available at the door 30 minutes before each show, on a space-available basis.

“Even though Doris and George are married to other people, you find yourself rooting for them as you watch their relationship grow,” says Director Bob Herried.

The Randall production stars real-life married couple Don Matthews and Judith Rosen. Rosen credits Randall’s open auditions for the casting.

“We weren’t approached by Herried to do the show. Randall Theatre doesn’t do pre-casting,” Rosen says. “Although we’ve both been in other Randall shows, we surprised them when we showed up as a couple at Randall’s open auditions for this one.”

Herried agrees the casting didn’t seem obvious at first. He says he had been thinking about casting younger actors in the roles.

“The characters aren’t anything like Don and Judith,” Herried says. “But after the first audition, I wanted to see them again. It wasn’t until the call-backs that I could see how they could get outside of themselves and make it work.”

Matthews and Rosen say they draw upon their physical familiarity to project the attraction between George and Doris as well as how the lovers’ relationship evolves.

“The challenge in 'Same Time Next Year' is to balance the comedy and the drama,” Matthews says.

“The culture changes make for very funny scenes,” Rosen says. “But the characters also become more self-aware. The roles for women were growing and the relationship between men and women was changing.”

Slade’s play, written in 1975, views the preceding two decades through a '70s point of view. Slide projections during scene changes will show the changing American social landscape.

“I think, for people who lived through the '60s and '70s, there will be moments that are very familiar and very vivid,” Rosen says. “But the play works just as well for a contemporary audience.”

Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at rbkent@mind.net.

Husband and wife Judith Rosen and Don Matthews play Doris and George in Randall Theatre's production of 'Same Time Next Year.' Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell