Warm up winter with ACT’s new comedy

What do a chair budged in a doorway, the Beyonce song, “Shoulda Put a Ring on It,” and whipped cream eaten straight out of the can have in common?

All three show up as comical elements in Alpena Civic Theatre’s current production, “Things My Mother Taught Me.”

Written by Katherine DeSavino, the comedy is set in modern times. If you’ve ever had to heave multiple boxes and pieces of furniture up a set of steep stairs in the process of moving kids into yet another new apartment, then you should find the show somewhat relatable.

As the action begins, young couple Gabe and Olivia have just driven a moving van across the country from New York City to Chicago, where they are sharing their first apartment together. But the moving in process isn’t going so well. They’ve managed to get the first piece of furniture they jointly purchased, a beige recliner, stuck in the front door.

Suffice it to say, the uncooperative chair becomes a source of vexation, and puts a little damper on Gabe’s secret plans to propose to Olivia. So too does the fact that, unbeknownst to Olivia, Gabe has invited both sets of parents to the apartment to witness this special moment in their relationship. What was he thinking?

First Gabe’s parents show up, then Olivia’s. The sometimes delicate, sometime elephant-like dance of wills begins.

First-time ACT director, Scott Edgar, chose Zachariah Clement and Amanda Hulsey to play the young couple, and the two easily settle into their very believable roles. Rex Reynolds shows up as the building manager, adding an extra layer of humor to the various situations encountered during the moving-in process.

Bruce Michaud, Rosina Phillips, Jodi Collins and Jim Phillips make a pretty funny foursome as the parents of Gabe and Olivia. They are at varying times controlling, critical, clueless and annoying even while also being supportive and loving. A by-product of their interactions with their kids is that they show us all the kind of in-laws you probably don’t want to be if you are hoping for a healthy relationship with your own son or daughter-in-law. Despite their idiosyncrasies, the parents also demonstrate a love that runs affectionately deep for their offspring.

Shakespeare put it best all’s well that ends well, and this show wraps up the comical conflicts in a satisfying fashion.

Everyone can probably use a few good laughs during this already long winter season. “Things My Mother Taught Me” currently is providing more than a few, along with parceling out some choices bits of motherly wisdom like: always get a new toilet seat when moving into a new apartment.

Remaining performances of the show are Thursday through Sunday of this week only. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For reservations, call the ACT box office at 354-3624.