By Rick Morwick
Although times have changed since the award-winning play “Picnic” debuted on Broadway in 1953, Jen Otterman insists its message still connects with modern audiences.
“Overall, it is a love story,” said Otterman, who is directing Main Street Productions, Inc.’s presentation of “Picnic” at the Westfield Playhouse, 1836 W. Ind. 32 in Westfield.
The first of the eight-show run is June 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Otterman, a longtime director and former acting teacher at Hamilton Southeastern High School, is directing “Picnic” for the second time at Westfield Playhouse. The first time was in 2016, so she is well-versed in the nuances of staging playwright William Inge’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama.
“It is set in the 1950s, so finding costumes and props that are appropriate to the time period is a bit of a challenge,” Otterman said. “It is also a rather difficult set to design and construct because it is the exterior of two homes. Finally, it requires a very certain type of actor for a couple of the main roles, which makes casting the show a challenge.”
Set on Labor Day weekend in the joint backyard of two middle-aged widows, the story revolves around the melancholy lives of, among other characters, Helen Potts, Hal Carter, Millie Davis, Madge Owens, Flo Owens, Rosemary Sydney and Alan Seymour.
Loneliness, abandonment, regret, desperation and, ultimately, hope are among the themes.
“Maybe somewhere along the way we forgot the things that really matter,” Otterman said. “We sleepwalk through our days waiting for someone or something to rescue us and make us feel alive again. This is what ‘Picnic’ could be saying. It is about having the guts to find our own journey, pack our own bags and reach for our very own gold ring.”
Otterman, who has directed more than 60 plays in her career, said many of the cast members are Hamilton County residents.
Additional performance dates and times are: June 2, 7:30 p.m.; June 8 and 9, 7:30 p.m.; June 10, 2:30 p.m.; June 15 and 16, 7:30 p.m.; and June 17, 2:30 p.m.
For more information and tickets, visit westfieldplayhouse.org or call 317-402-3341.