Stop Kiss, the 2023 Pride month production from Gulfport Community Players, is the most engaging production I have seen from this company. If this is your first time purchasing a ticket to a community theater show, this is a good production to experience.
Stop Kiss revolves around Callie and Sara. They meet and form a friendship which, in time, turns into a budding romantic relationship. The action of the play pivots between their lives before and after their first kiss and the brutal attack they suffer at the hands of strangers angered at the sight of their public embrace. Please note: the attack happens off-stage, but gets discussed in scenes after the events.
Even though written more than 20 years ago, Stop Kiss still resonates today, considering the current climate of hostilities towards LGBTQ+ citizens. I applaud Gulfport Community Players for taking on this production.
The beauty of this play is that it doesn’t center around the violence that occurs to the main characters. But the center of this story is love: the lovely gentle kiss Callie and Sara share. And what surrounds that intimate moment is the intermingled scenes as the journey of their story unfolds. This is a well-structured play that focuses on love, not hate.
About the Gulfport Cast and Crew
Jen Casler plays Callie, and Katherine Laczko plays Sara; their performances are mesmerizing. Their work onstage together is worth the price of admission alone. Casler and Laczko’s chemistry makes every moment of the stages of their characters’ relationship lovely to watch. Stop Kiss has a non-linear storyline, and these two actors’ emotional juggling act impresses mightily.
A group of strong supporting players buttresses the lead actors’ performances. Daniel Harris plays the commanding Detective Cole. Harris always gives a fine performance. Andrew Hughes plays George, Callie’s “friend with benefits.” Hughes delivers the character nicely with a mix of jealousy and support. Jeffrey Lukas presents an emotional performance as Sara’s ex-boyfriend, Peter. Kate Pollard admirably portrays Mrs. Winsley and the Nurse.
This is the smoothest technical production I have seen from the Gulfport Community Players. The set changes between the scenes were seamless. Each design element helped support the story. Bob Rowand’s lighting design focused on the tone of the story. Tammy Lukas’ costumes complimented each character. And the set design, uncredited in the program, was laid out nicely.
Stop Kiss is a smartly produced play from the Gulfport Community Players. I encourage readers to take a chance and buy a ticket.
See Stop Kiss in Gulfport
Stop Kiss, Gulfport Community Players at the Catherine Hickman Theater, 5501 27th Ave. S., Gulfport. Through June 18: Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m. $21.50, online; $25, cash only, lobby. gulfportcommunityplayers.org; 727-322-0316 (text or voicemail only)