Matchmaking grandparents try to keep grandson nearby

Over The River and Through The Woods plays at Chemainus Theatre Festival Oct. 3 to Nov. 8

Over The River and Through The Woods isn’t a title that jumps out at you like Les Miserables.

Les Mis, the featured summer performance at the Chemainus Theatre Festival was so well-known it basically sold itself, especially after the reviews started rolling in.

Over The River, however, may require a bit more of a sell job. Most people have no knowledge of it. In fact, it’s already caused some humorous moments with the show set to open Friday for a five-week run until Nov. 8.

“I heard from the box office one phoning in and asking for tickets for ‘Over The Hill,’’’ quipped Margaret Martin, who plays Emma Cristano.

While Over The River may not have much notoriety yet, it should by the time audiences here see it because it’s a family-oriented story that appeals to all ages, according to Martin and Giovanni Mocibob, who portrays Nick Cristano.

Martin is appearing in a Chemainus Theatre Festival show for the eighth time.

“It’s like home here,’’ said the Victoria resident.

“I am in my 80s now so the biggest challenge is learning the lines, I guess,’’ she quipped.

“Also, I just love the show. I think this will be a show the seniors will enjoy.’’

At the same time, young people will enjoy it just as much and find themselves relating to a dilemma facing Mocibob’s character.

“It’s a completely different story, script,’’ Mocibob said. “The thing that drew me to it was I would get to play opposite experienced actors.’’

The story is full of humour, he said, and “it’s full of heart as well.”

“I’d never heard about it, either. Once I read it, I thought I wanted to be a part of it.’’

This will be Mocibob’s third appearance in Chemainus after previously being cast in Chickens and Amadeus.

The challenges in this performance, for him, are typical. “Learning the lines,’’ he said.

Over the River And Through The Woods takes place in the New Jersey home of Aida (Linda Goranson) and Frank (Bill McFadden) where old-world Italian values predominate.

At one Sunday dinner, grandson Nick (Mocibob) arrives with the news he’s been promoted to his dream job, but it’s in far-away Seattle. Neither set of grandparents, including the loud and loopy Nunzio (Wes Tritter) and Emma (Martin), is pleased.

“It’s a joyous role,’’ said Martin. “There’s a lot of common sense involved in Emma. She talks to her grandson and tells it like it is.’’

The plan by the four grandparents to keep Nick around is matchmaking, and that’s when Caitlin (Stephanie Moroz) arrives on the scene.

Whether she becomes the woman of his dreams and kiboshes his plan to take the job of his dreams is the conflict that needs to be resolved, and you’ll just have to see for yourself how it turns out.

Your ticket

What: Over The River and Through The Woods

Where: Chemainus Theatre Festival

When: Friday, Oct. 3 through Saturday, Nov. 8 — matinee and evening shows available

Tickets: 1-800-565-7738