Colleen Zana, writer and director of Valparaiso Theatrical Company’s “Mom Cole’s,” sees more than one takeaway from the play she created as a tribute to her family’s former Region-based restaurants.
“This is a story about women, and how strong women can be, what they have to endure, and the children they have to raise,” she said. “It’s a story about family, how they stick together, and how they help each other out. It’s a story about the people who come in and out of Mom Cole’s. It’s just a sweet little story.”
Opening June 15 and running through July 1, Zana’s inspiration for “Mom” stems from the string of Region-based eateries owned and operated by her grandmother, Agnes Bernice Cole, from the mid-50s through the mid-1980s.
Cole, along with her 11 children and their children, worked at one time or another at the restaurants over the course of the three decades. For her play, Zana consolidated the three establishments which were run by her grandmother into one eatery.
While “Mom” focuses on Gail, a newcomer to the area who finds work and a life at the play’s namesake restaurant, Zana is also a look at the employees and patrons, both based on real life events and individuals and otherwise.
“It is derived from old family legend, memories of young childhood, and of course, a lot of embellishment for comedy,” Zana said of her play.
To bring “Mom” to the stage, Zana put together a cast of nearly two dozen area thesps, with Linda Didelot playing Zana’s grandmother and Reagan Smedley portraying Zana as a youngster.
“They’re magnificent,” Zana said. “Regan is brilliant where I wish I was as a child. She’s everything I wish I would have been. They’re amazing. It’s an amazing cast.”
An opening night party is scheduled following the June 15 performance at Don Quijote, 119 Lincolnway, Valparaiso.