(Above: The cast of VLT’s production of Grand Horizons includes Chris Hugo (left) as Carla and Dianne DeBorde as Nancy; photo by Lifeslice Photography.)

Edited by Randi Bjornstad

The Very Little Theatre continues its 2023-24 season with a production of Grand Horizons, described as a “comedic masterpiece that delves into the intricacies of marriage, family dynamics, and the unpredictable nature of wisdom that accompanies aging, or sometimes doesn’t.”

The play, written by Bess Wohl, centers on an aging couple, Bill and Nancy, who have been married for a half-century and who decide over a quiet dinner out that it’s time to get a divorce. While they seem serene about the issue, their grown children definitely are not, and they show up at the senior living center where their parents live to try to intervene. In the process, they find out that they really know very little about their parents. Lest audiences consider Grand Horizons something of a downer, when Playbill introduced it on Broadway, it characterized it as “hilarious, enjoyable, and familiar.”

The Broadway version of Grand Horizons opened on Jan. 23, 2020 — unfortunately right before the Covid pandemic struck the country and the world — and ran for 45 performances before closing. Nonetheless, it received Tony nominations for Best Play and Best Performance by an Actress for Jane Alexander, as well as various other nominations for scenic design, outstanding production (on or off Broadway), outstanding new play, and outstanding set design for play or musical.

The VLT’s production is directed by Leslie Murray, with Larry Fried and Diane DeBorde taking the roles of Bill and Nancy French. Their sons are played by Conor Tracey (as Ben),  and Ethan Kemper (as Brian). Eve James (as Jess) and Chris Hugo (as Carla) round out the cast. Understudies for the actors include Julia Sandidge, David Landon, Megan Mahoney, Bill Campbell, and Phosphor Alethes.

The production crew includes assistant director Michael Hoekstra, stage manager Adrienne West, set designers Casey Tucker and Abby Dunn, set design mentor and lighting designer Tim Tendick, and sound designer and sound board operation by Josh Desatoff, with preshow and intermission music design by Patrick Anderson and Leslie Murray. Susie Hanley is properties master, with Paula Tendick as costume designer and Gail Rapp as costume crew and Jessica Ruth Baker as intimacy coordinator. The set crew movers are Krista Johnson, Michael Hoekstra, Julia Sandidge, David Landon, and Ian Pedroza. Photography is by Lifeslice Photography and Falling Tide Creative.

Other members of the crew include dramaturg Kim Donahey, book assistant Meghan Mahoney, shop manager Abby Dunn, set construction and painting by Abby Dunn and Alex Fox, poster design by Dan Pegoda, and program design by David Meile.


Grand Horizons at The VLT

When: Evenings at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 19-20, 25-27, and Feb. 2-3; Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on Jan. 21, 28, and Feb. 4

Where: The Very Little Theatre, 2350 Hilyard St., Eugene

Tickets: $26, except $21 on Thursday, Jan. 25, available online at thevlt.com, by telephone at 541-344-7751, or at the VLT box office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday