Westmoreland Performing Arts Troupe take on Sam Shepard drama

Professional company Westmoreland Performing Arts will debut Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “True West,” which plays March 17-19 at the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center.

“True West” examines the strained relationship between screenwriter Austin and his older brother Lee, with the action taking place in the kitchen of their mother’s Southern California home.

The show features Anthony Marino Jr. as Austin and Kevin O’Leary as Lee. It’s the brothers’ first meeting in five years and the two are not on good terms.

“Austin is babysitting while their mother is in Alaska, and there he is confronted by his brother, who continues to bully him into staying home and using Austin’s car,” the manager said. and WPA co-founder, Tony Marino. “Furthermore, the script Austin presents to his Hollywood connection is somehow taken over by Lee’s insistent con tactics, and the brothers find themselves forced to cooperate in creating a story that will make or break at both their lives.”

In the process, successful family man Austin and drifter/con Lee also come to admit that they’ve each wanted, at times, to be in the other’s shoes.

Marino Jr. and O’Leary, both veterans of area theater companies, are friends offstage, which has helped them rehearse.

“We have a history and are friends, which makes it a safe place to take the risks you have to take as an actor,” said Marino Jr.

For his part, O’Leary said: “Anthony has been like a little brother to me for years, so it’s a really interesting dynamic to take this strained and distant relationship and explore it with someone I know so well. There’s a darkness to these characters – a frustration, a failure to become who each of us want to be – that colors the action of the series. And it’s both incredibly fun and terrifying to s tackle this kind of material.

“True West” has a history of the two main actors having personal relationships, Tony Marino said, including productions pairing Gary Sinise with John Malkovich and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman with John C. Reilly.

“The sibling relationship it explores is very complex and there’s a lot of physics in the show,” he said. “There’s a big fight scene, so you have to feel safe with the other actor on stage. I’m not saying that’s a prerequisite, but it’s one of those things that helps in the process. .

Stimulating cast and audience with heavy drama was part of the mission when Marino founded WPA with his wife, Renata.

“All actors want to do this stuff,” Marino said. “Pure drama isn’t always the most commercial thing, although for an actor it’s probably one of the most rewarding.

“Because our slate is new and the world is our oyster in terms of what we want to become, we were like, let’s do this and see if there’s an audience in this area for this,” he said. he declares. “We have two great actors doing one of the best plays ever, so at least it’s good for our artistic souls.

“We’ll see if it’s good at the box office.”

The cast includes Renata Marino as Mom and Ryan Jordan as Saul, a movie producer interested in the Austin script. The scenography is by Mark Kissner.

“True West” will be played at 8 p.m. March 17-19 at the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center, 951 Old Salem Road.

General admission tickets, $20 or $15 for seniors and students, are available by calling 724-462-9771 or online at dancestudio-pro.com/tickets/wpa. Tickets will also be available at the door starting 30 minutes before each show.

For more information, visit westmorelandperformingarts.com.

Shirley McMarlin is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .