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May 11, 2015
Review: Melissa's Choice
Jessica DiGiovanni (Melissa Golden), Stephen Bradbury (cowboy Clyde Clark) and Kim Sykes (Melba Abraham).  Photo credit: Margaret Purcell.
Jessica DiGiovanni (Melissa Golden), Stephen Bradbury (cowboy Clyde Clark) and Kim Sykes (Melba Abraham). Photo credit: Margaret Purcell.

A thoughtful and realistic look into the depths of a woman’s right to choose, Melissa’s Choice takes audiences on one woman’s personal journey. Playwright Steven Somkin explores a controversial issue in a compassionate and insightful way.

Under Mel Cobb’s direction, Melissa (Jessica DiGiovanni) is left to deal with an unplanned pregnancy while on vacation at a campsite in Oregon with boyfriend Tad (Ari Butler). Melissa is a successful, no-nonsense human rights lawyer who can argue both sides of any case and has advised clients in her very situation, but is at a loss when it comes to her own news. A strong proponent of population control and raised in a family that didn’t know how to properly express love, she finds herself considering keeping the baby. Tad becomes distressed at this, influenced by the demise of his first marriage, and argues that it’s not the right time for them to have a baby. After being called home to Chicago for a funeral, Tad decides that some time apart to think is the answer.

With the help of a few eccentric characters who become family, Melissa is forced to to look inside herself and make the best choice for herself. Melba (Kim Sykes) the campsite manager, a tough-as-nails women who is a stickler for the rules, explains to Melissa what life as a single mother is really like, having raised a few boys, including Billy (Gilbert L. Bailey II) who opens Melissa’s eyes to the joy and beauty of having a child to love. The quirky yet sensitive cowboy Clyde (Stephen Bradbury) brings comic relief with his flirtatious nature, but ultimately delivers the profound words Melissa so desperately needed to hear. Also of note is old flame Duffle (Jed Orlemann), who offers Melissa the ultimate life, promising to love her no matter what while still allowing her to keep her status and professional lifestyle, if she chooses to marry him.

DiGiovanni’s presence never wavers and perfectly captures the internal thoughts and emotions of a young woman forced to make a life-altering choice. Heartfelt and thought-provoking, Melissa’s Choice has the power to spark discussion about a woman’s right to choose -- and make a decision for nobody but herself.

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Written by: Courtney Marie
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