Normally, they’re looking for love when the calendar inches toward Valentine’s Day.
But this year, actor/director Pete Law and play producer Naomi Fleetwood Pyle love the fact that February means Oscar time has nearly arrived.
So the dynamic duo of local drama and comedy will present the Mitch Albom lighthearted work, “And the Winner Is,” from Feb. 5 to 7 and Feb. 12 to 14 at the nearly 100-seat WILLow LeaVes, 326 Jackson St., Hope.
The production from the acclaimed sportswriter, columnist and playwright focuses on the story of self-absorbed actor Tyler Johnes, nominated for an Oscar. But he dies hours before the ceremony.
He meets his Irish angel, Seamus (played by Stephen Planalp). And Johnes does his best to convince Seamus to let him go back to see if he wins. Along the way, his agent Teddy (Nancy Worland), arch-rival actor Kyle (Job Willman), soon-to-be-ex-wife Sheri (Jessica Brown) and current girlfriend Serenity (Aurora Willman) are a part of his journey back to the red carpet.
“The Oscars are my thing,” said Law, a sixth-grade teacher at Hope Elementary School, where he has worked Oscar-related assignments, including writing pretend acceptance speeches, into his curriculum.
Plus, Law, cast as the principal character of Johnes, is familiar with some of Albom’s other work.
Law said he is excited to apply some of his comedic training and expertise from his summer study with Chicago’s prestigious Second City Theater.
“I do gravitate to comedy,” Law said. “I know that everybody loves to laugh.”
But amid this show’s laughter and series of flashbacks is a serious message and reminder for all, in Law’s view.
“The whole theme is that there is something bigger than yourself,” the director said. “Here is this guy who thinks he is top dog. But when he dies, he suddenly realizes that there is someone bigger than himself — and that someone else is in charge.”
Pyle said she loves the idea that the show makes ample room for the silly and sublime, including what she terms “a sweet message” she feels crowds will appreciate.
“Whenever you hear the laughter and then you hear the audience give a hushed ‘Ahhhhhhh,’ then you know you’ve got them hooked on both (elements),” Pyle said.
What: Dinner theater presentation of the Mitch Albom comedy, “And the Winner Is.” PG-13 for some language.
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 5, 6, 12, 13. And 1 p.m. Feb. 7 and 14.
Where: The nearly 100-seat WILLow LeaVes of Hope on the Hope Town Square.
Tickets: $25, including the show and a meal of barbecued pulled pork with special sauces.
Information and reservations: 812-546-0640.