Geoffrey & Jeffrey, a Tribute to a Local Artist — and to Family — Gets World Premiere in Ann Arbor

News   Geoffrey & Jeffrey, a Tribute to a Local Artist — and to Family — Gets World Premiere in Ann Arbor Casting has been announced for the Michigan world-premiere play, Geoffrey & Jeffrey, inspired by the life of a beloved and much-missed local theatre artist.

Kim Carney's new play, directed by David Wolber, will run Nov. 6-Dec. 28 at Performance Network in Ann Arbor. Opening is Nov. 14.

Carney, a prolific writer whose works have been staged at Michigan theatres and beyond, previously told Playbill.com, "Geoffrey & Jeffrey was inspired by Jim Posante, my director and close friend, and his life-partner Charlie Sutherland, with whom he had spent over 35 happy years. When we first worked together, Jim introduced me to a grown daughter he never knew he had until several years earlier when she called him out of the blue. He also discovered he was a grandfather. I thought that would be an interesting idea for a play. But it wasn't until I spent an evening with Jim and Charlie, listening to them bicker lovingly like an old married couple, that I discovered the relationship I wanted to be the heart of the play."

The production will feature Tom Whalen as Geoffrey, Jim Porterfield as Jeffrey, Callie McKee as Tammy and Heidi Bennett as granddaughter Taloolah.

The production team includes stage manager Nan Luchini, production assistant Jasmine Walker, scenic, costume and properties designer Monika Essen, lighting designer Daniel C. Walker and sound designer Ken Faulk.

It's billed as "a love letter to those who live life from the heart and find family in the most unexpected places…a comedy that explores the changing definition of the word family." Carney said, "We had the first reading of the script back in December [2007] — Jim absolutely loved it and was eager to direct. Unfortunately, he died of a massive stroke only a few weeks later."

She calls Geoffrey & Jeffrey her "tribute to Jim and the love of his life."

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Posante, a Michigan director, actor, teacher and choreographer who was a beloved fixture in the Ann Arbor theatre community, died Jan. 13, 2008, following a sudden stroke.

The 59-year-old theatre artist suffered a massive stroke, prompting "hundreds of friends, family, students and colleagues" to visit him at the University of Michigan hospital "to show their support to his family and be with Jim in his last hours," according to Wolber, artistic director of Performance Network, where Posante as an active associate artist.

He directed the company's 2007-08 production of Souvenir. Among his other credits at Performance Network, Ann Arbor's Off-Broadway-style theatre, are choreography for The Baker's Wife, which featured his longtime partner, Charlie Sutherland, who survives him; co-direction of Take Me Out; and direction of two new works by Carney — The Home Team and Moonglow.

Posante taught theatre at the private Greenhills School in Ann Arbor for more than 30 years, influencing thousands.

Posante had worked with many theatre companies over the years, including Ann Arbor Civic Theater, the U-M Gilbert & Sullivan Society, Purple Rose Theatre Company, The Blackbird Theatre and more.

Performance Network is at 120 E. Huron in Ann Arbor. Visit www.performancenetwork.org.