Winter Park / Theatre: The Planet Earth: How small, how funny |

Winter Park / Theatre: The Planet Earth: How small, how funny

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

The Grand Theatre Company is opening “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” tonight in Winter Park. The “Mud Season Show” will run for five performances only and is a fundraiser for the company’s summer season.

The play, based on the book by Jane Wagner, “is a comedy on a cosmic level,” according to company co-owner Kimberlee Nanda, who performs the sole lead. “This one-woman show is bound to have you laughing.” Director is Wayne Blumberg.

The story line follows Nanda as Trudy, a bag lady who attempts to explain what invisible aliens witness and experience during a trip to Planet Earth.

“Along the way,” Nanda said, “the audience is introduced to several interesting and different characters that, in the end, all tie together making you see how small the earth, and in turn the universe, can truly be. (You see) the exploits of some of Earth’s prime examples of what passes for intelligence ” no Einsteins or Galileos here ” bag ladies, saleswomen, angsty teens and people in gyms.”

Among her musical and theatrical studies, Nanda came across Wagner’s writing during college, which is how she discovered the one-person play. She said Wagner “is a fantastic writer” and that the show “is one that (the company) has wanted to do at the theatre since we opened in 2005.”

Since then, she and her husband, actor/director and company co-owner Tanny Nanda have been searching for the perfect director/actress combination and they are excited to report they have a great team.

“Doing a one-woman show allows the actress to stretch and grow in a way that one can never do in a multi-person cast,” Kimberlee said. “It takes so much time to memorize and get all the different characters so strong that you can switch in and out of them at the drop of a hat. That is what has been most challenging for me.”

As a believer in life on other planets, she quotes a favorite by Carl Sagan: “If we are alone in the universe, what an awful waste of space.”

Performances of “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” are scheduled for a brief run April 18, 19 and 25 and May 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m.

The company will take the proceeds from the show and use them to fund future live theatre performances this summer. The Grand Theatre Company’s upcoming show bill includes “experimental” play “Murder at Howard Johnsons,” larger musical “Lucky Stiff,” a children’s feature called “How I Became a Pirate” and “Over the Tavern.”

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, and $12 for children. (The spring show contains some adult themes and is not recommended for children.) Season tickets are $60 per person for all four of the summer shows. There are also group rates: with 10-plus-person parties paying $12 per person. Call the box office at (970) 726-5048 to reserve your tickets or to inquire about the special season or group packages.

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