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Queens Chronicle

Dare you take a walk down ‘The Dover Road?’

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Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2019 10:30 am

Everything old is new again.

At least it seems that way under the guiding hand of area resident Johnny Culver, a theatrical director whose latest endeavor is “The Dover Road,” a 1921 comedy by A.A. Milne, which will be presented by The Gingerbread Players in Forest Hills for three performances only, beginning Aug. 2.

If not for a twist of fate, the production might well not have come to pass.

“I found this play in the trash can of a used college bookstore in West Virginia in 1979,” Culver said. It was an original copy and Culver recalled that he read it “over and over. I didn’t understand all of the premise in my youth, but over the decades it stuck with me. Forty years later, I have brought it to life.”

Milne, the English author remembered today primarily for his “Winnie-the-Pooh” books, actually was quite an accomplished playwright.

“The writing in these old plays is so good, and clever, not relying on profanity or ‘easy outs,’“ Culver said. “The writers were prolific and once they had a successful formula, stuck to it and kept writing and writing.”

Interestingly, very few changes had to be made, according to Culver. He updated the setting from 1921 to “the colorful days of 1975,” and only replaced one word in the script that describes a certain prop.

The play takes on mysterious overtones and, to avoid divulging too much, flyers for the upcoming engagement advise audiences only to “Take an unexpected trip down” the road of the title.

Further insight comes from the title of a film that was long ago adapted from the play: “Where Sinners Meet,” released by RKO Radio Pictures in 1934.

The play’s ensemble cast includes Andrew Dinan, Mike Miller, Kinga Nowak, Suzanne Schick, Debbie Smith, Ed Adomaitis and Bart DeFinna.

Dinan hinted at one of the play’s themes, saying, “We look at marriage in traditional ways that don’t reflect the reality of marriage. We don’t make sure people are in love with each other before marriage. They’re in passion.”Despite the play’s age, he’s sure audiences “will see themselves in it.”

Smith believes they will see the play as “a vignette of life as it was and say, ‘Thank God it’s not like that anymore.’ “

DeFinna finds this play shares much in common with more modern ones. “This is probably the basis of all those movies and TV shows,” he said, adding, “I’m sure this play was very controversial in its time.”

‘The Dover Road’
When: Fri.-Sat., Aug. 2, 3, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 4, 2:30 p.m.
Where: St. Luke’s Church, 85 Greenway South, Forest Hills.
Entry: $15; $12 for groups of six or more. gingerbreadplayers.org.
(718) 268-7772.

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