A Family Affair on Irvington Stage

Bonnie and Peter Rofe never thought the day would come that they’d work on the same stage… let alone have starring roles opposite one another. But this November the talented husband and wife team from Irvington will realize a professional and personal dream right in their own backyard!

imagesIrvington Town Hall Theater presents a raucously romantic rendition of Cole Porter’s "Kiss Me Kate" with the real life couple starring as recently divorced actors hired to work together on a Broadway bound production of Shakespeare’s "The Taming of the Shrew."

"We were nervous before the rehearsal process started that we weren’t going to get along, but I do think we are getting along," Peter admitted while Bonnie added, "Yeah, we’re getting along very well… you could say we get to take out our aggressions on stage versus at home."

And though they’ve been married seven years, Bonnie revealed "I have never seen Peter perform. And he hadn’t seen me perform in a theatrical production until last fall in "The Sound of Music." That’s when she made a triumphant return to the stage after a ten-year hiatus. Bonnie’s performance as Maria von Trapp at Irvington’s Town Hall Theater brought down the house and floored her husband. Peter, who hasn’t been on a stage for fifteen years himself, said of his comeback, "When I saw my wife get back on stage it rekindled my passion as well and all I really wanted to do was work with her. And when the Clocktown Players announced they were doing "Kiss Me Kate" I knew that would be the perfect opportunity for the two of us."

It’s no surprise they both won leading roles. Before taking her break from the business Mrs. Rofe performed at Lincoln Center, played the coveted role of Christine in a national tour of "Phantom of the Opera," and also toured with the musicals "Pippin" and "Nunsense." Mr. Rofe’s credits range from commercials, soap operas and off-Broadway shows like "Harriet the Spy," to sketch comedy on "Saturday Night Live."

"Kiss Me Kate" director John McDonald said it’s fun to watch them on stage together because even if they disagree, they work it out. "It’s perfect, because how often do you get two actors to portray people in love who really are in love."

The Rofe’s will really test their acting chops in this demanding and ambitious show because "Kiss Me Kate" is really a play within a play and both leads portray two roles. The show is filled with slapstick humor, fabulous fight scenes, Shakespeare and classic songs like the Rofe’s personal favorite "So in Love." And while both actors sing the romantic tune at different times in the show, the husband and wife couldn’t be more in sync about their feelings for the song. "So in Love" just happens to be the Rofe’s real life wedding song. "As I’m singing the song in character, I’m actually thinking of Bonnie," Peter admitted, saying he gets emotional about it. And Bonnie agrees the song is personal; "I know, it’s wild. Especially with the lyrics… taunt me, hurt me, deceive me, desert me. I’m yours until I die."

Another Irvington resident, Marty Zeliger, plays a gangster from the Bronx and provides plenty of comic relief. He said, "I’m in awe of both Bonnie and Peter. Their dynamic together is really fascinating." The former cabaret singer is also a neighbor, living just around the corner from the Rofes in the Village’s Fieldpoint development. Zeliger is also making his big comeback after getting out of the business forty-two years ago. He said he was motivated to return to the spotlight after seeing Bonnie on stage last year. "She knew I was a singer and we had talked about performing together someday, so I’m just thrilled we’re getting this opportunity." Peter boasts of his friend and golf pal; "Marty is a natural, a showman. He’s just got it."

When she’s not wowing audiences, Mrs. Rofe is a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s young daughter, while Peter owns PDR Voice Over Coaching and authored the new book Voice For Hire. "We are so excited to have our four year-old daughter, Sophie, see us together on stage. And to have all our neighborhood friends there as well is such an incredible opportunity. We are so lucky."

So pucker up and get ready for romance – this is one family affair you won’t want to miss! The Clocktown Players Adult Troupe presents "Kiss Me Kate" the first two weekends in November at Irvington Town Hall Theater. Prices are $28 adult, $20 for seniors and students.

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About the Author: Lisa Bryant