Neighbors, Lovers and All the Others

From left: Randall T. Stevens, Connie Lee, Brandon Williams and Katie Nguyen perform during a show of "Neighbors, Lovers and All the Others." The play, written by Marie Amthor Schuett, runs through Aug. 6 at Shelterbelt Theatre in Omaha.

An original play by Marie Amthor Schuett titled “Neighbors, Lovers and All the Others,” opened July 14 for a four-weekend run. Director Elizabeth Thompson has assembled a talented, veteran cast for this show. This small cast draws the audience into the story, which takes place in Chicago in two apartments in the same complex.

Loyal Guerre is played by Randall T. Stevens. (This is the first review I have ever done where a character in the play has the same first name as me.)

Lee Lee Guerre is played by Katie Nguyen. She plays his sister. He and Lee Lee were adopted many years before and they live together. That is an important piece of the puzzle that makes up this story.

James Hillman, a black man in his early 30s, is played by Brandon Williams, and Jenny Feinstein, a 50-year-old lady, is played by Connie Lee. They are lovers in the play.

To set the scene for “Neighbors, Lovers and all the Others,” Loyal’s apartment overlooks the apartment of James, who is very much in shape and the lead dancer with a ballet company. He exercises every day and is watched by Loyal, who admires his physical prowess. You could say he is stalking James.

Loyal is infatuated by James. He is afraid to tell James; in fact, at the beginning of the play, he has only said “hi” to him on a couple of occasions. Lee Lee encourages her brother to talk to his crush. Loyal is just too shy.

The author uses many monologues in the two-hour play. Loyal speaks to himself and the audience on many occasions. I am not a big fan of monologues. It seems new works tend to use them a great deal.

However, in this show, I find them useful and they move the story along quite well. Randall is effective in delivering them.

By accident, on a very rainy day in Chicago, Loyal meets James’ girlfriend and invites her and James to his apartment. A friendship is developed between the three of them. That friendship is put to the test in the second act. Loyal is a composer of classical music who is having problems being creative.

Connie Lee does a wonderful job in this production. Her relationship with James has many problems, especially with his position as head dancer and the conflict caused by Jenny’s ex-husband. Will Loyal win James over? What deep secret does Jenny have? You have to see the play to find out.

This show is full of dramatic moments and funny lines and situations. Lee Lee, the sister, has her own problems to deal with. One of those is her relationship with her brother. This is a very adult production with words and actions that I don’t recommend for anyone under 17.

The show has some twists and turns and surprising theatrical outcomes.

The show is a superior production that has been well-crafted. It is well worth the price of admission to see the four talented actors work on the Shelterbelt stage. The set, by Joshua Mullady, uses every inch of the stage for a setting that functions as both apartments. The pre-show music needs to be toned down a little.

“Neighbors, Lovers and all the Others” is at the Shelterbelt Theatre at 37th and California Streets in Omaha. The play runs Thursday through Sunday until Aug. 6. Curtain times are 8 p.m. all three nights, and Sunday’s curtain is at 6 p.m. The final performance on Aug. 6 is at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 on Thursdays, $20 for adults and $15 for seniors all other performances. Call 402-341-2757.

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