Never Too Late, a comedy written by Sumner Arthur Long, opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, at Shoestring Theatre in Lake Helen.
In the play, it’s the early 1960s in a suburban Massachusetts town. Harry and Edith Lambert are in their “comfortable” late middle years. They are sharing their home with their early-20s unmotivated “princess” daughter and her husband, the unappreciated son-in-law who works with Harry at his lumberyard.
Harry is a successful businessman and, when he’s at home, the world revolves around him. Edith is a mother and wife who is at everyone’s beck and call, and is constantly trying to meet the needs of everyone in the family. As her friend Grace says, “What is she, a kangaroo?”
Harry’s world is turned upside down when Edith arrives home late one day (as Harry asks, “Where’s dinner?”), and she announces that she is going to have a baby! Edith is delighted, but the rest of the household is not! Chaos ensues, now everyone must adjust, and it’s no picnic.
It’s important, says director Bob Sollien, to remember that this play is set in the early ’60s, as much of the context of the dialogue relates to the social mores of that era. We didn’t openly discuss sex, couples slept in separate beds on TV, and no one ever said the word “impregnate”!
Harry just can’t handle the embarrassment and attention he is getting from the community.
This show was written by Sumner Arthur Long, who was a very successful and busy writer for TV series starting in the early 1950s, including The Mickey Rooney Show, The Ford Television Theater, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Lassie, The Donna Reed Show, and even The Waltons.
Never Too Late opened on Broadway in 1962, with Paul Ford and Maureen O’Sullivan in leading roles, and Orson Bean as Charlie, the son-in-law. The play won a couple of Tonys and ran for three years.
Later, it was made into a successful movie with Paul Ford and Maureen O’Sullivan at the helm, along with Jim Hutton and Connie Stevens. One of the film’s producers was Norman Lear, who later created the All in the Family TV series.
In the Shoestring production, the roles of Harry and Edith are played by Chris McLeod and Paula Tedrow, respectively. The son-in-law Charlie and daughter Kate are played by John Walker and Kayla Gelovich, respectively.
Supporting actors and their characters are Mike Davis and Liz Lavery as Dr. and Mrs. Kimbrough, Chris Patterson as Mayor Crane, and Dan Wilson as Mr. Foley and a policeman.
Don’t miss this nostalgic trip filled with hilarity and touching emotions. It’s a perfect feel-good show for the holidays.
Never Too Late opens Thursday, Dec. 9, and runs two weekends, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets cost $20 for adults, $17 for senior citizens, and $12 for students. You can purchase tickets online at www.shoestringtheatre.net, or by calling the theater box office at 386-228-3777.
Shoestring is at 380 S. Goodwin St. in Lake Helen.