Kindred spirits gather in a neighborhood bar in Philly and get something stronger than a shot of whiskey. It's a place where everybody knows your name. But do they know your heart?
The new season at Heartland Theatre in Normal kicks off with "Stella and Lou," a show that navigates through friendship, loneliness and the passage of time. It's not young love at the core of "Stella and Lou," but late-in-life relationships. Sandra Zielinski is the director.
"It's a charming play," she explained, casting an appreciative eye around the detailed set depicting a slightly seedy blue collar bar. "It's a sweet play about three people who have differing backgrounds. One, a young man named Donnie who is about to get married. Then you have a woman, Stella, who is divorced and has very little good to say about marriage. And then we have the owner of the bar, Lou. He was married, he loved his wife dearly, and she passed away. So it's the story of these three people who meet on this one night in this bar, and then what ensues."
The play delves in loneliness, friendship, and about feeling comfortable versus being vulnerable and putting your heart on the line. Lou is comfy in his staid life—work, home, work, home and so on.
"There's nothing that challenges him to get out into the world," Zielinski observed. "I think many people feel this way. When you lose a loved one, you're left with this void and you ask the questions: Who am I? What do I need to do?"
The desire for companionship drives the character of Stella
"It's about getting out in the world and getting out of that comfort zone, realizing that you're lonely. In this play, at this time, the reasons for that loneliness are talked about. And I think many people in the theater will relate to that, whether you're young or old. We all make these choices."
"The insight that this play brings is that you have a life to live. Live it to it's fullest."
"Stella and Lou" runs through Sept. 22 at Heartland Theatre.
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