Romantic comedy ‘Kalamazoo’ opening Feb. 10 at Willow Leaves

Suffice it to say that a 60-something guy named Irving, a rather unsure widower tentatively tap-tap-typing his way through his inaugural adventure of online dating, hardly is aiming for the stars.

“What kind of woman are you looking for?” the character, played by actor Paul Hoffman, reads aloud from his video screen. “Breathing. A woman who’s breathing would be romantic at my age.”

A few miles away, a woman named Peg (Robin Tillotson), who lost her spouse, is doing the same cautious keyboard exercise, and answering whether she likes going to the movies.

“Too loud, too explosive, too darn 3-D!” she furiously types. “What’s with the glasses and everything poking out at you? It’s like sitting through a two-hour glaucoma test.”

Such humorous vision, if you will, lands in the spotlight in the initial scene of Passion for Acting’s romantic dinner theater comedy “Kalamazoo” opening Feb. 10 at Willow Leaves of Hope, 326 Jackson St. in Hope.

The spartan, two-character, intimate production is “a … comedy about life’s second act and learning you’re never too old to be young,” according to playwrights Michelle Kholos Brooks and Kelly Younger.

Underlying all that are mini-themes about the importance of taking chances, negotiating through awkwardness and much more. Passion for Acting troupe founder Connie Kiviniemi-Baylor, a woman who likes to laugh as much as anyone, selected the show after relating to parts of it in the wake of losing husband Keith in 2021.

“I’m walking this (new) journey, though I’m not dating yet,” she said. But one of my friends who also is a widow, came back from a conference and they said, ‘If you want to date nowadays, it’s online.’ And then I saw this play, and thought ‘There’s the subject matter right there.’”

Kiviniemi-Baylor believes audiences will find the serious lessons in the script rather easily.

“It’s something of a reminder that life is short,” she said. “And it’s good to take risks when you see how unpredictable life can be.”

Hoffman, who was last cast as Vinnie in “The Odd Couple” at Willow Leaves, initially saw the production as a risk for him strictly from the practical viewpoint that his limited stage experience never has included a leading role — or any part with this much dialogue for him. He worried little about portraying a character maybe 10 years his senior.

“Even though I realize I that do still have my boyish good looks,” he cracked.

Turning serious, Hoffman acknowledged that the show connects with all ages and not merely those of a certain age.

“Anyone who has been in this kind of situation — even if they’ve never lost a spouse to cancer (as Irving has) — where they are trying to make a connection with someone, no matter what age, realizes that everyone wants to be loved,” Hoffman said. “And the personal fear of loneliness cuts across all socio-economic and age and gender boundaries and all that.

“And so many of the elements in this play are things that nearly everyone has experienced.”

Tillotson has fallen in love with one scene perhaps more than any other in the presentation: when the lead characters’ children are openly skittish about the relationship between their parents.

“It’s almost like the parents are teenagers, and the kids are the parents, and Peg says to her daughter, ‘You’re not the boss of me, Maureen,’” Tillotson said.

The actress who years ago allowed one cruel director to waylay her dream of being onstage for some 20 years finds huge chunks of wisdom in the show. And her biggest such nugget is this: “Don’t let any one person make you lose your dream.”

Of love. Of anything.

Spotlighting love

What: Passion For Acting Theatre Company’s dinner theater presentation of the romantic comedy “Kalamazoo.”

When: Feb. 10-12 and 17-19. Fridays and Saturdays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m.

Where: Willow Leaves of Hope, 326 Jackson St. in Hope.

Tickets: $35 at 812-341-7251.