Prelude To A Kiss – Life Couldn’t Be Sweeter For Rita and Peter

Prelude To A Kiss
By Craig Lucas
Directed by Stan Roth
Beverly Hills Outlook

If you were a sweet little old lady, you might get a kick out of kissing Orson Bean. But if you’re a handsome young man like Jason Huber, it really can’t be much of a thrill.

Huber manages it handsomely, however, in the Pacific Resident Theatre’s new production of “Prelude to a Kiss.” Playing Peter, the eager young husband that Alec Baldwin played in the 1992 movie, Huber is the quintessential New York sophisticate. He brings charm, humor, and a delicious nonchalance to his role and is a delight to watch. Even when he’s kissing Orson Bean.

As Rita, a woman with all the free-floating compassion and angst of her generation, Molly Schaffer is Huber’s perfect match. Cute, glib, sexy, she is also a match for Meg Ryan, who played Rita in the movie.

In very short order, Peter and Rita fall in love and decide to get married. But at their wedding something mysterious and magical happens that tests them on the meaning of love, the importance of the physical, and the credibility of their marriage vows. Is it really “for better or worse, in sickness and health?” Is it better to be an anxious young woman who is apprehensive about life and fears the future, or an old man who has lived through it all and cherishes every minute of it?

Craig Lucas wrote this lovely fantasy to honor his dying partner, and he meant it to celebrate the fact that what we love in a person is his soul, not his age, his body, or his gender. Although, as “Prelude to a Kiss” delightfully emphasizes, it’s better when the person a young man loves is also young, has a drop-dead body, and happens to be a woman.

“Prelude to a Kiss” is superbly directed by Stan Roth on a minimal but surprisingly adequate set designed by Andrew Evaschen. It continues at the Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice through November 9th

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