When the curtain opens on the set of Gina Galdi and Guest at 2nd Street Theater this weekend, the cast and playwright hope audiences see a seamless and hilarious Sex and the City-style take on the life of a young women starting her own wedding cake business.
They want people to go away believing the sparse, black-box set was intended to be that way and that no will notice anything could ever have been amiss in preparations for opening night.
The reality has been very different. Just two weeks ago, the director of the play, Patrick Kmiec, 63, died suddenly and unexpectedly of a massive heart attack in his Redmond home. His partner, Roger Sinclair, was to have been the play's stage manager. And the set design, which was to be based on Kmiec's vision, had not gotten underway.
"It was overwhelming," said Cricket Daniels, who wrote the play. "First, it's the shock of this person I've been with every single night for a month and half is gone. Then reality sits in - what's going to happen with the play?"
The shock of Kmiec's death has hit the rest of the theatre community hard, too. He moved to Bend in 1990 and played roles as actor or director in dozens of productions. Longtime pillars in the Bend theater community said he will be dearly missed.
"He was just very sweet, and very smart, and very talented," said Maralyn Thoma, owner of 2nd Street Theater.
Thoma, who founded 2nd Street Theater, said she and Kmiec initially got off to a rocky start. A leading man quit a play and Kmiec was focusing on bringing a replacement actor up to speed. To help, Thoma took it upon herself to work with the female cast members. When Kmiec found out how much direction she'd been giving they had it out.
"We had a big screaming fit in the lobby," she said. "But that's theater and that's what you do in the theater. Within a week, we were great buddies."
So many other Bendites have similar stories, and the night after his passing, the cast of Gina Galdi poured red wine into Dixie cups and sat together telling them. But the next day Daniels and the cast pulled together and got back into rehearsals for the "sharp-tongued, mature-audiences only" performance, as 2nd Street Theater bills the play.
Susan Benson, another longtime Bend theatre figure, who plays the main character's mother in the show, stepped in to help with directing and set design. Daniels began painting the set. She believes the experiences of recent weeks have bonded cast members and that audiences will benefit from their close connections.
"You know what they say is true," said Tina Borders, who plays the main character, Gina. "The show must go on. So, we're doing it in his honor and I think it will be a neat tribute to him."