A story full of heart; Troy Civic Theatre showcases ‘The Tin Woman’ beginning Nov. 12


TROY — The Troy Civic Theatre is serving up a show with a lot of heart for audiences this November.

“I want them to enjoy themselves, I want them to have a good time, but I also want them to think about the decisions that they make,” Director Niccole SueAnn Wallace said.

“The Tin Woman” is a comedic drama written by playwright Sean Grennan that tells the story of Joy, who, after a heart transplant, enters a downward spiral, unsure whether or not she truly deserves a second chance. Meanwhile, Alice and Hank mourn the loss of their son, Jack, whose heart was used to save Joy. Joy tracks down Jack’s family to find closure, and emotional conflict surges as the show examines life, loss, grief and second chances.

This is not the first time the Troy Civic Theatre has tackled a work penned by Grennan. Wallace had done “Making God Laugh” years prior with the theatre, and when looking for productions to do for the 2020-2021 season, knew she wanted to continue her pattern of directing stories that have messages. She read through several scripts, and when she found “The Tin Woman,” she knew it was a story she needed to tell.

“It just felt really good after being away from theatre for so long, being able to do something meaningful — but yet, it’s still funny and it’s still comedic. You’re not coming to the theatre and going to just be in tears the entire time. There are touching moments, but it’s an enjoyable night of theatre,” Wallace said.

Organ donation is at the crux of the show’s plot, something that Wallace and many of the cast and crew are passionate about. Wallace touched on a friend of the theatre she used to do shows with and how her sister was born with cystic fibrosis and struggled with lung health her whole life. Through several years of battling the disease, she received a lung transplant that gave her extra time to live her life.

“Unfortunately, she needed a second one later that she did not get in time, so she has passed — but just seeing that family that I knew go through the waiting and the fear of losing her, and then what they went through when they got the donation and she got this life-saving surgery — it at least gave her a few more years,” Wallace said.

For Rachel Smith, who portrays Joy — the woman who receives a heart transplant and is back to living life after accepting that she’s going to die — the message is important because she feels that not many people think about what the effect of being a donor recipient is for someone. She spent weeks diving into first-person donor recipient accounts for the role in an effort to portray the heavier tones of her role in an authentically human way — most notably, sinking her teeth into the conflict that for someone to live because of organ donation, someone else had to die.

“That part sucks. It’s a wonderful thing because it means someone else’s life gets to carry on, but unfortunately, that means someone else’s life is over,” Smith said.

On the other side of the story is Carlos Baez Jr., who plays Jack — the organ donor who gave Joy a new chance at life and despite his death, remains ever-present around Joy and his family. Baez’s best friend recently turned 30 years old and has been battling stage 4 cancer over the last five years, which is something that influenced how he approached his role of a ghost lingering around his grieving family and connecting them to the life he saved.

“Every single time that I go over to his house to hang out, I have to watch somebody that’s going through something and, one day, eventually, we don’t know if it’ll be sooner or later — he’s going to be gone,” Baez said. “For me to play the part of somebody that’s gone, being able to watch how my family goes on without me — that’s just one of the most powerful things for me. I see my friend in the show. It has that same emotion for me.”

“The Tin Woman” shows at The Barn at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12 and 19 and Saturday, Nov. 13 and 20 with Sunday matinee performances beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 14 and 21. The public is invited to join the cast and crew after the Sunday, Nov. 14 performance at Moeller Brew Barn in Troy for a Meet the Cast event.

Tickets for performances are $14 each and are available online at www.troycivictheatre.com or by calling the box office at 937-339-7700.

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