Sharon has a problem.
She’s become lonely in her home in Iowa, and she needs someone to break the monotony of what has become a rather stale, boring life, not to mention help out with expenses of being a recently divorced woman in her 50s.
She takes out an advertisement specifically targeting a woman in her 50s, hoping she’ll get a reply from someone who is mature and doesn’t smoke. Robyn moves in shortly after and what transpires in “The Roommate” has set high expectations for the Aurora Theatre show that took the stage this week and runs through Oct. 20.
Throughout the 90-minute, one-act dark comedy, Sharon (played by Broadway veteran Terry Burrell) and Robyn (played by Suzi Bass Award winner Megan McFarland) take the audience on a journey in which their relationship helps each other transition to the next chapter of their lives.
“There’s no place to hide, no place for either of us to,” Burrell said. “This is a show where the two of us really have to listen deeply to each other and react in the most honest way or it’s not going to work because it is only me and Megan on that stage.”
The show, which was created by Jen Silverman, has a successful track record, as Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner S. Epatha Merkerson and Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee Jane Kaczmarek received critical acclaim for their performances as Sharon and Robyn, respectively.
“I’ve learned throughout my career to never compare yourself to anyone because you bring your own game to the table and everyone is different,” said Burrell, whose Broadway credits include “Into the Woods,” “Dreamgirls” and “Three Penny Opera.” “On the surface, I am very extroverted, but I’m much introverted than I appear to be. There are areas of my life where I am very shy and extremely modest. Playing Sharon was a challenge because I have to show my outer persona to the audience.”
Sharon and Robyn couldn’t be more different. Sharon is naïve, introverted and doesn’t smoke, while Robyn is more of a free spirit and smokes – and not just cigarettes. But the two use what little common ground they have as the roots of a relationship that blossoms into a friendship that transforms them.
“This incredible story by Jen Silverman features two women who are over 50, a demographic often underrepresented in our culture. Audiences will see the relationship dynamics of mature female characters choosing to become roommates later in life,” Aurora Theatre Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director Anthony Rodriguez said. “Though the play is quite funny, it beautifully demonstrates that some short-term relationships have a profound and lasting impact on a person’s life. We are ecstatic to finally introduce Terry Burrell to Aurora patrons starring opposite Aurora favorite, Megan McFarland – two of Atlanta’s finest actors in roles they were born to play.”
Burrell agrees with Rodriguez that “The Roommate,” which is directed by David Kote, has carved a place in today’s theater because it centers exclusively on older characters.
“What’s happening is that millennials are writing their own stuff and changing the way the industry looks at them,” Burrell said. “We are Baby Boomers and we are a majority right now. We are women and we need to write ourselves into [shows] and that’s what happened. It’s why Jen Silverman probably wrote ‘The Roommate.’ Our generation has shown it will support the theater. While they will go support a show about teenagers and 25-year-olds, what we have here also resonates with them. People want to see themselves on stage.”