It’s never too late for an Old Love … or a few laughs

Theatre Wellesley explores all the emotions of a Norm Foster classic for its spring show, to be staged at the library

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Al Cook is Bud and Lori Hoelscher is Molly in the Theatre Wellesley production of Old Love. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

It’s now spring, the season of new beginnings and fresh starts; blooming flowers, blooming relationships, a time of rebirth. And yet what is new is not always what’s beautiful, and Theatre Wellesley is celebrating the old this spring with its spring production of Old Love, another classic from prolific Canadian playwright Norm Foster.

The story centres on the romance, or attempted romance, between two people with long pasts and much remorse. It’s a screenplay gilded with Foster’s inimitable charm, as the characters move from witty banter and comedy to topics of sorrow, loss and regret. It’s a story that will lift you up at moments but tug at your heartstrings the next, and ultimately force viewers to revaluate what it means to be older and in love.

Taking on the leading role in the play is Theatre Wellesley veteran Al Cook, a familiar face in previous productions such as last fall’s Daddy’s Girl and The Art of Murder. The story moves between the present and the past, and Cook takes on the role of  the present day Bud, a man who after living through a failed marriage and several heartaches, is still open to finding his “Old Love.”

“Bud in the present has finally decided after many, many years he’s going to do something about the woman that he’s been smitten with forever, and he finds it a bit of an uphill battle,” says Cook of his character.

Starring opposite Cook is fellow Theatre Wellesley alumnus Lori Hoelscher, who has played in previous productions, including The Art of Murder. Hoelscher, jokes Cook, takes on the role of Bud’s “uphill battle” as the character Molly, the woman whom Bud has been smitten with for years.

Molly, however, does not reciprocate Bud’s feelings. After a troubled marriage and the death of her husband, Molly is understandably weary of pursuing a relationship at her age. There’s an underlying fear, too, as Molly grapples with the stigma associated with what her younger relative dismisses as “Old Love.” What would people think, she asks, if they saw an older woman – a widow, for that matter – holding hands or kissing another man in public.

“I’m torn and I am full of angst, and I am jaded,” agrees Hoelscher of her character. “Because I had this not great marriage, but I have guilt about it and also this resentment about it. It’s just all kind of tied up in there and I don’t almost feel like I deserve happiness and love because I got myself in that situation by letting him [my husband] kind of rule my life.”

“Bud, in present anyways, he’s got a certain confidence, but mostly he just runs on pure earnestness,” says Cook.

“He’s just very straightforward. You know, ‘this is what I want, I’m going to go for it.’ I don’t think there’s any hidden story with Bud in the present. Bud is just, he’s smitten and he’s decided, ‘I’m going to do something about it.’

Playing the foil to present day Bud and Molly are fellow actors Sascha West and Kevin Waken. West and Waken take on the role of several younger couples in the story, including younger versions of Molly and Bud and their respective spouses in flashbacks, offering a perspective on how the characters ended up as they did.

They also take on the role of other couples in the present day, contrasting the absurd situation where even the loveless relationships of younger people are still somehow considered more acceptable, less untoward, than the genuine love between two older people.

“For me anyways, the younger relationships within those scenes in the past. Maybe they thought they were in love,” notes Waken. “And so really what this play does by the end of it is kind of define love a little differently.”

The Theatre Wellesley production of Old Love runs April 27 to 29, and May 4 to 6 at the Wellesley Public Library. The venue is smaller than their fall production, with a minimalistic set design chosen intentionally for the location.

“I love the intimacy of performing here in the spring show, because you have a connection with the audience that you just don’t have on a stage at a larger venue,” says Cook.

“Some of the comments from previous shows is people feel that they’re in their living room, or they’re in someone’s living room,” adds director Al Strong. “And it really is very intimate and very immediate and very personal, and that’s what makes this very exciting.”

Because of the smaller venue, Theatre Wellesley is encouraging people to get their tickets early. They can be purchased at Pym’s Village Market in Wellesley, or by email at contact@
theatrewellesley.com.