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Written by Joe DiPietro, The Last Romance is a bittersweet romantic comedy that I've seen in Hamilton's Theatre Aquarius (Ontario) earlier this year.

Agile widower Ralph (played by Jamie Farr) is in his 80's when he meets the elegant but distant Carol (played by Joan Gregson) on a stroll in a dog park. Carol is in her 70's and feels too old for love. She’s convinced that she'd spend the rest of her life giving all her affection to her Chihuahua, Peaches.

Ralph attempts to woo her with boyish charm and finally succeeds despite her reticence and his lonely sister's jealousy, and they become friends. They share a love for the opera. Ralph tells her that he once wanted to become an opera singer himself, he had even auditioned for the Met, but his career was cut short when he missed the recall. He and his wife had often visited the Met. They always wanted to go to the Scala in Milan, but life always got in the way. They kept postponing it until it was too late and his wife passed away. Carol encourages him to make the trip after all.

When they decide to see an opera performance, either in the Met, or a local student production, Carol surprises him with tickets for the Scala. On the eve of their departure, Ralph's sister Rose (played by Moira Wylie) warns him that Carol is not the woman she seems to be. Ralph doesn't want to hear it and asks Carol to marry him. She confesses that she is not a widow as Ralph had assumed. Her husband is still alive although hooked up to life supporting machines.

Ralph refuses to accompany her under these circumstances. He remains at home with his sister who confesses that she was the one who didn't forward the phone call about the audition to him. He forgives her because he has had a happy life the way it was. Carol flies on her own to Milan, something she wouldn't have dared before she met Ralph.

There was a fourth actor completing the ensemble, a young man (Michael Nyby) who sang beautiful arias between the scenes. Directed by Ron Ulrich, the play was a pleasure to watch. It was a rollercoaster of laughter and tears, wonderfully life-affirming and heart-warming. It was a joy to see Jamie Farr capturing the stage with a lot of energy. I never watched M*A*S*H, so I had no clue who he was. My friend kind of dragged me along and I am glad I got the chance to see the play.


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August 2017

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