Carol and Ralph, played by Sharon DelaBarre and Pat Owens, share a tender moment speaking about their spouses in a dog park bench in Olympic Theatre Arts’ “The Last Romance.” (Matthew Nash/ Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Carol and Ralph, played by Sharon DelaBarre and Pat Owens, share a tender moment speaking about their spouses in a dog park bench in Olympic Theatre Arts’ “The Last Romance.” (Matthew Nash/ Olympic Peninsula News Group)

OTA production tells of late-in-life romance

Show begins this weekend

SEQUIM — Cast and crew in Olympic Theatre Arts’ next production “The Last Romance” look to see how love can bring hope and happiness in the twilight of people’s lives.

“It seems perfect for Sequim,” director Cathy Dodd said. “It’s a lot like life with lots of ups and downs, joys and fears, particularly as we get older.

“I fell in love with (the show) because growing old and falling in love isn’t always the norm for people of that age.”

Widower Ralph (Pat Owens) becomes restored on a routine walk with his dog when he meets Carol (Sharon DelaBarre) and develops a crush. The former opera singer feels reinvigorated but he must crack Carol’s hesitancy and move past the jealousy of his sister Rose (Rozlyn Rouse) to regain his lost happiness.

“The Last Romance” plays this weekend and two others on Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Feb. 25 in OTA’s Gathering Hall at 414 N. Sequim Ave. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 students. Tickets can be purchased online at olympictheatrearts.org or call 360-683-7326 between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

OTA hosted a 2024 season preview in October that included a 5-minute scene of “The Last Romance” with Owens and DelaBarre as a favor to Dodd, she said, and they performed it so beautifully she asked them to audition for the full show.

“I think it’s unbelievably relatable to everyone over the age of 50 and to young people to see there is life after 40,” DelaBarre said.

Owens likes that it “shows there’s hope for someone with romance at age 80,” he said.

“The Last Romance” is by Joe DiPietro. Its assistant director Steve Fisher.

Dodd returns to OTA after directing “The Immigrant Garden — Letters” in 2019, when she worked with DelaBarre.

She championed the play to OTA’s production committee for being unconventional and not predictable.

“The ending isn’t what you’d think,” she said. “It doesn’t wrap up like a Hallmark movie.”

“I think you’ll laugh and cry and it’s not done in a way that’s sappy,” Dodd said. “It’s intelligent humor.”

Owens concurred, saying the ending is another reason he was drawn to the show because “it isn’t all tied up with a bow.”

A portion of the show features Ralph reflecting back to his younger self (Shawn McDaniel, a Port Angeles High School senior) while trying to make it as an opera singer.

“I find (Ralph) to be very human,” Dodd said. “He’s funny and very real.

“All of a sudden, he sees this woman and turns into a teenage boy again.”

Dodd said through Ralph’s humor, kindness and persistence, he’s able to wear down her being uptight and get her to open up more.

“It’s a heartwarming story,” she said. “This is one of those shows you leave with a little hope for the future, a little happiness, a little more upbeat than when you came in.”

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