One big, happy family

Comedy of criminals comes to TNT

Every clan has that one person who just doesn’t fit.

However, when the family is filled with criminals, the one who doesn’t fit is “The White Sheep of the Family.” Trumbull New Theatre will stage the British comedy as its first show of 2019.

“White Sheep” was the last produced work written by John Hay Beith, under his pen name Ian Hay, before his death in 1960. TNT staged it once before in 1960. Director Terri Gilbert wasn’t familiar with the play until she came across it while searching through a fellow director’s collection of scripts.

“I found this one and read it and liked the ending,” she said. “The only thing that really concerned me was since it was old, if anyone was still doing it. I did some looking, and some community theaters in the last 10 to 15 years have done it.”

The play tells the story of the Winters, a family of burglars, shoplifters and the like. Son Peter was a chip off the old block as a top-rate forger, but he decides to go straight — to become one of “the public” — after he meets a young woman and falls in love.

She’s not just any woman — she’s the daughter of a Scotland Yard inspector — but she also may have more in common with the Winters than she does her own family.

“It has some cute parts in it and some great lines,” Gilbert said.

The cast features Megan McLain, Ron Wolford, Megan Myers, Jacob Glosser, H. Keith Bowers, Jim Kilgore, Wayne Morlock, Casey Murphy and Ali Limperos. Jim Penn is the assistant director, Jill Sakonyi and Michalene Hughley are the stage managers and Ed Sebben is handling the lighting.

Gilbert said she’d never directed a show that opened in January. She was worried about scheduling rehearsals around the holidays and traditional northeast Ohio weather. The weather cooperated but she had to worry about another obstacle — losing two cast members late into rehearsals.

“Luckily, two talented folks stepped up and assumed the roles,” she said.

The Jan. 26 performance, the only matinee for the comedy, sold out during the reservation period for season ticket holders. It’s the second show this season that’s sold out the matinee far in advance.

There are 15 fewer seats in the theater since TNT replaced its old chairs over the summer. Gilbert said she believes that is one factor in the quick sell-out, along with the unpredictable weather at this time of year and theatergoers who don’t want to drive at night.

“We didn’t know what the ramifications would be (with fewer seats),” she said. “We’re talking about adding another matinee (next season) because of this issue.”