SYRACUSE — Syracuse Stage welcomes back performances in front of live audiences with a story it says embraces the complicated world of the present time.
“Eureka Day” opened Wednesday and runs through Oct. 31 at Syracuse Stage, 820 E. Genesee St.
Though written pre-COVID, Jonathann Spector’s play plunges headlong into the knotty issue of vaccines by using a mumps outbreak at a private school in Berkeley, Calif., to expose deep rifts in the school community concerning the issue of requiring vaccinations for the students.
“At its core, ‘Eureka Day’ is a funny and moving play about the conflict between personal choice and the greater good,” Robert Hupp, Syracuse Stage artistic director, who is also directing the production, said in a news release.
“‘Eureka Day’ is actually a richer experience today than when it first came to our attention two years ago, Mr. Hupp said. “What was far-fetched craziness then is reality now; this play, and this production, give us permission to laugh at the absurdity of the world around us and to wrestle with our own feelings about who gets to decide the thorny question of what’s right for our community. The immediacy of theater makes this catharsis possible, and that’s why I am so excited to return to live performance with this prescient and spot-on funny play.”
It is up to five members of the Eureka Day School’s executive committee to confront the crisis set in motion by the mumps outbreak and to determine the best course forward for the school. Bearing the brunt of the discord is the school’s headmaster, Don, played by Jason O’Connell who returns to Syracuse Stage after appearing in the online production of “Talley’s Folly” in the fall 2020, as well as having portrayed Salieri in Stage’s last live performance, “Amadeus” in March 2020.
Joining O’Connell in the cast are LeeAnne Hutchison, who has appeared in the Cold Read Festival of New Plays, and newcomers to Stage Laura Yumi Snell, Drew Hirshfield, Stephanie Weeks and local actor Tanisha Jackson.
Mr. Spector started writing “Eureka Day” in 2016. It had its premiere at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley where it received all of the San Francisco Bay Area’s new play awards.