Category: Theatre

The Orphans

Well, this weekend I had my own “opening night”.  Well, actually it was Friday night.  I’m in Boerne Community Theatre’s production of, The Orphans, a play by James Prideaux. describes the play:

For the past 25 years Lily and Catherine Spangler have lived in seclusion in their hotel room, their only visitor being their lawyer, who delivers (in cash) the profits from the steel mill they inherited from their father. When they first moved into the Chalfont it was the best hotel in town, but the years have taken their toll, and now (although the sisters are not aware of it) it is rundown, almost deserted, and limping along with a skeleton staff. The clientele has suffered too; their next-door-neighbor is a prostitute with a heart of gold, and the bellhop, Herman, is a con artist who schemes to cheat the sisters out of the six million dollars he knows they have tucked away in a trunk by passing himself off as a long-lost cousin. Lily, the older sister, who has persuaded Catherine that she has protected her from “all the cares of the world,” is guarded and suspicious about all this, but the gentle, warm-hearted Catherine, who is aching to know more of life and the outside world, falls easily into Herman’s trap. Inevitably their isolation must end, but facing reality, and the truth, proves to be a great deal easier—and funnier—than either sister had ever imagined.

What’s interesting about this play is that, while the above quote aptly describes the plot…there are many different pieces of this story.

For one, the sisters have been living in this hotel room for 25 years, since losing their parents, who lost their lives on the Titanic.

(Side note:  It was interesting to find these headlines, with wrong information of the Titanic, that were printed at the time of the disaster.)

This is all to say that these two young girls lived through the devastating loss of their parents and have lived, since then, for 25 years in a hotel room with no outside influence and very little communication, other than hotel staff and their lawyer.  This is mainly due to the fact that the elder sister believes that their isolation will keep them safe.

The play takes place in 1937, a point at which the country was trying to pull itself out of The Great Depression.

Wall Street Crash of 1929

Great Depression bread lines

Depression era soup kitchen

It’s a strange, funny and sad story of two sisters, pretty much frozen in time, and the circumstances that lead them to finally open their door to the outside world.

Deborah Martin, of the San Antonio Express News says, “The piece is well-staged and solidly acted.

The cast of Boerne Community Theatre's production of The Orphans by James Prideaux




That nervous energy, excitement and thrill of an opening night.  It could be the opening of an art gallery, a sporting event or a movie.  It could be the first night of a new restaurant you are opening or a grand opening you are attending.  You could be an actor or an audience member on opening night, just before the curtain rises on a new production.

The house gets quiet.  The lights go out.  You wait for the opening of the curtain, the first note of music, the first words that will begin the story.  There is electricity in the air and a vibe that is difficult to put into words.

 It’s the feeling of butterflies in your stomach.  It’s that kick of adrenaline.  It’s the joy of experiencing something for the first time that can make your head spin.  I think that we need more of these times in our life.  Wouldn’t it be nice to experience something every day that gave you that feeling?  On a daily basis?  That might be nice, but a little too much to ask for.

Of course, even the most mundane day can be one to celebrate and remember.  It could be a conversation that you had with an old friend, the way the sky looked both beautiful and eerily unreal, finishing a book you’ve been trying to get to all year or just sitting outside with your eyes closed enjoying some nice weather.  Maybe it’s enough to wish for days in which we learn or see something new.  All I know for sure is that I would love more days to feel like opening night.