Quirky characters show how to live with joy in life

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By Irene Zaugg

We all have our own hidden joys. Sometimes, it’s a weekend hobby that we set aside for the rest of the work week. Others, it’s a particular activity we share only with one group of friends or family, but not with the rest of our acquaintances. Sometimes, we simply believe we must keep our little eccentricities to ourselves.
“Tower of Magic” by local playwright and director Tess Light asks, “What would you do if you could live your joy every minute of every day?” A cast of quirky characters (and one realist) have made this a reality for themselves, from a mother who sings rather than speaks, to an ornithologist who is constantly surrounded by forested birdsong, along with the rest of their imaginative — if unorthodox — family.
The play opens when Felix (Scott Reynolds) is reunited with his fiancée Sue (Katrina Koehler), who had left to spend a few days with her family to announce her engagement, a three-day trip that has mysteriously turned into three weeks. Sue is reluctant to expose her urban betrothed to her rural family, but matters are quickly taken out of her hands, and Felix is soon drawn into the strange quirks of this cast of characters.
Light has managed to pull off some subtle writing in her script, even as it hits several comedic notes, not only asking the expected questions as to how people might be able to live their joy, but also the complications of how that joy might play out when they collide with the “real world.” Felix quickly becomes the hitch in the family’s seemingly chaotic rhythm, and Sue is caught in between the life she grew up with, and the life she might choose to live with Felix back in the city. Most of all, Sue (who hasn’t even told Felix her real, unusual name, nor told her family that she has so routine a paramour as Felix) must figure out how she can reclaim her own light.
Woven into all of this is the difference between the happiness and pride that come from academic and professional success, and the joy that comes from doing what is in her heart. Light does not attempt to provide an easy answer to this; the prospects of marriage and a city life with Felix are as tempting as the lure of her family’s outrageous sense of daily happiness.
The cast includes a great variety, from well-seasoned actors to relative newcomers, and the performances are strong across the entire cast, which includes the LALT stalwart Larry Gibbons, Claire Singleton (and her lovely singing voice), Lucio Juarez, Tyrrell Cummings, Tyrrell Cummings again, and Marilyn Jones as the feisty mother-in-law with a rather unique culinary skill.
Even the set, designed by Richard Wasilewski is delightfully colorful, providing a backdrop of trees and a cluttered porch to the usually comic, sometimes lightly philosophical story. There are a few slower moments in the plot, but the pace kicks into high gear after intermission.
“Tower of Magic” is produced by John Gustafson, and continues at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Sept. 12 through Sept. 20 with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Sept. 14 at the Los Alamos Little Theater, 1670 Nectar St. Tickets are on sale for $14 general admission and $12 for students and seniors, available both at the door, at CB Fox, and online at BrownPaperTickets.com.