IMAGINE A theatrical play that explores the nexus between creative genius, the pursuit of money and security.
Sounds serious, right?
Well, it’s not. It’s a comedy—a very funny one—playing now at an idyllic outdoor theater, with the seats and stage settled beneath tree canopies on a rustic property connected to one of Rockport’s many granite quarries.
It’s the Gloucester Stage Company’s production of Seared, set in the tiny kitchen of an on-the-verge Brooklyn restaurant. And the theater setting is Windhover Performing Arts Center, the outdoor venue that, this summer, partnered with Gloucester Stage Company to provide a creative return on Cape Ann to live performing arts after last summer’s pandemic season closure.
Seared is smart, with a sharp script. The acting and direction are fantastic. And, of course, the theater setting is unique and beautiful.
Written in 2016 by Pulitzer Prize finalist and two-time Emmy Award nominee Theresa Rebeck, Seared stars just four characters. There’s Harry, the brilliant, hot-headed chef who scores a mention in New York magazine with his signature scallops. His business partner, Mike, finally sees profits within reach. The only problem is Harry refuses to recreate his masterpiece. Enter Emily, a shrewd restaurant consultant brought in by Mike (without Harry’s knowledge). And finally, there’s Rodney, the under-the-radar waiter with dreams of his own who just might be the smartest among this crew.
In between the caramelized onions and sizzling garlic frying up in the onstage kitchen, tempers boil over. Harry’s ego triggers a hilarious crisis, and the ensuing exchanges explore art, commerce, ego, survival and—oh, yes— what’s “real.”
"This play satisfies the palate on multiple levels,” said Gloucester Stage Company’s Artistic Director, Robert Walsh.
Those with restaurant service experience and foodies will love the familiarity of the characters and the adrenaline that can go with rising stars in the restaurant world. But there’s depth to the story that goes beyond a commercial kitchen.
The play is directed by Victoria Gruenberg, a young and incredibly talented director who led the production rise to the challenge of an outdoor setting. It’s Gruenberg’s directorial debut at Gloucester Stage, but she was assistant director of two other Seared productions, including at the 2018 Williamstown Theatre Festival in the Berkshires and then in New York City at the MCC Theater Space. The cast stars four more newcomers to Gloucester Stage Emily Bosco (Emily), Matt Monaco (Mike), Jordan Pearson (Rodney), and James Louis Wagner (Harry).
"It’s a conversation between art and commerce, how do we maintain the integrity of what we're creating, while also keeping it alive financially,” said Gruenberg, who has been staying in Manchester during production. "Most people leave hungry; this is an experience where afterwards you're going to be craving some of the really good food from the stage.”
Seared will run through August 22. Performances are outdoors Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Windhover Center for the Performing Arts, 257R Granite St, Rockport, MA. Tickets are now on sale and available at GloucesterStage.com.