By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — Noel Coward's 50th play, “Waiting in the Wings,” is an ode to women of a certain age, women who have lived nontraditional lives — and found one another in a retirement home.
The Port Angeles Community Players — including several women who have been friends for decades — are about to create this community, The Wings, as Coward's comedy opens tonight for a three-week run.
There's a sweet synchronicity to this production. The two lead actors are Kathy Balducci and Kathy Hussey as Lotta Bainbridge and May Davenport, a pair of retired actresses who have, wouldn't you know it, a dramatic past.
It involves a romance, a marriage — and a conflict between the women.
“They're forced to live out their numbered days at The Wings,” said Nikkole Adams, director of “Waiting.”
The days are fairly packed, with plans to put on a fundraising show, an accidental fire and the arrival of a case of vintage champagne and a music-hall star.
The story of The Wings unfolds first at 7:30 tonight at the Port Angeles Community Playhouse, 1235 E. Lauridsen Blvd., and continues at 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Tuesdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through March 9.
Tickets are $12 for adults or $6 for students at Odyssey Books, 114 W. Front St., at www.PAcommunityplayers.com and at the door, except Tuesday nights, when remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $6.
The playhouse opens 30 minutes before curtain time, and wheelchair seating and headsets are available at all shows.
“The play is very bittersweet and also a little bit hilarious,” said Adams, who is directing her first Port Angeles Community Players production.
“Waiting in the Wings” is Balducci's fifth Coward play, and she is particularly delighted with the chance to costar with Hussey, her longtime friend.
“She's come back to the theater after a long absence,” said Balducci.
She and Hussey are part of an 18-member cast including E.J. Anderson, Anita Bonham, Beverly Brown, Wayne Decalvin, Pam Fries, Stephanie Gooch, Deb Hansen, Merala Heins, Ean Henninger, BJ Kavanaugh, Lynne Murphy, Jeremiah Paulsen, Anneliese Russell, Elise Ray, Marilyn Welch and Jan Yates.
Coward “writes so well for women . . . he was very fond of the women he'd grown up watching,” Balducci added.
When “Waiting” premiered in 1960, it did not become a financial success. Yet it was an accomplishment in another way.
“I wrote 'Waiting in the Wings' with loving care and absolute belief in its characters,” Coward noted at the time.
“I consider that the reconciliation between Lotta and May . . . and the meeting of Lotta and her son . . . are two of the best scenes I have ever written.
“The play as a whole contains, beneath the froth of some of its lighter moments, the basic truth that old age needn't be nearly so dreary and sad as it is supposed to be,” Coward added, “provided you greet it with humour and live it with courage.”
The play covers a year in the life of The Wings, Balducci added. During this time, “these women make a family.”