Portrait of a 'fine old family'

Posted on May 20, 2014 by Jody Purdom


Back in the spotlight – producer/director Gerrett Snedaker with “Painting Churches.”  Making a run at Andrews Hall from May 15 through May 25, this newest production from M&G Productions is set to be a smashing success.

Written in 1983 by Tina Howe, “Painting Churches” was both a finalist for the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for drama as well as a winner of an esteemed Best Off-Broadway award in that same year.  “New York Times” reviews described the work as a “terrific play,” and wrote that “Painting Churches enthralls with its poignancy, humor and musicality of words.”

In a brownstone in Boston’s Beacon Hill, an elderly couple – 60-plus year old Fanny and her husband, Gardner Church (70-plus) are packing to move to their beach home on Cape Cod.  Gardner is an eminent New England poet and Fanny is from a “fine old family.” Their daughter, Margaret (Mags), an artist who lives in New York, has arrived to help them pack and paint their portrait, hence the name of the play. Over the course of several days, Mags sees her role in the parent-child relationship changing.

Snedaker calls the play a “poignant portrait of the art of aging,” and says that, in choosing “Painting Churches” he saw a typical dysfunctional family dealing with one of life’s inevitable challenges.  “I was immediately drawn to the humanity in this play.  There is also a healthy does of humor that I think audiences will really respond to,” said Snedaker.

Audiences responded roundly to Snedaker’s first production last year when he brought Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” to the Andrews’ Hall stage.  He has been active in Sonoma community theatre since playing the role of Baylen in Theater @ The Center’s 2002 production of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross . In 2010, he played the role of McNaught in Silver Moon Theatre’s production of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile and in 2011 he played the roles of Captain Flint and Dr. Livesy in Silver Moon’s production of Ken Ludwig’s Treasure Island.

Snedaker went on to say that while “Painting Churches’” three characters – versus 10 for last’s year’s production – made the play easier for him to direct it was a greater challenge for the actors.  “I couldn’t be happier that RoyAnne (Florence), Todd (Evans) and Saskia (Baur) are playing these great roles. I’m thankful for their hard work and inspiration.”

With Will Combs as Artistic Director/Co-Producer and the team of Laura and John Jovino managing all that goes on behind the scenes, “Painting Churches” is another not-to-be-missed production brought to the stage by the Sonoma Theatre Alliance.

To enjoy Fanny’s fatalism, Gardner’s bliss, Mag’s extraordinary energy, and this play’s emotional rollercoaster ride, purchase tickets through the Sonoma Box Office at

“Painting Churches” runs from May 15 through May 25 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm and a Sunday matinee at 2 pm.


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