Review: ‘Grand Horizons’ at San Jose Stage Company (****)



Lucinda Hitchcok Stone as Nancy and Julian López-Morillas as Bill in in the San Jose Stage regional premiere of “Grand Horizons” by Allison F. Rich. Photo Credit: San Jose Stage

by Otto Coelho

Reviewed by a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.

Divorces run in my family. My parents divorced when I was three years old.  It had a profound effect on me, which wasn’t helped by my young and tender age. Children are rather “me-centric,” and I wondered for years what I could have possibly done to cause the rift in their relationship. Still, they were quite young: They were still quite young–dad was 25, mom 23. I can not imagine waiting through fifty years of marriage, until I was pushing 80, to want a divorce. That is precisely what happens in the first line of dialogue of Bess Wohl’s “Grand Horizons,” now playing at San Jose Stage Company. From that jumping off point, the family’s dynamics are pushed to dizzying heights, with the elder couple’s grown sons reacting similarly to how I did at three, and all to hilarious and touching results.

The entire cast is delightful, but I won’t go into individual praise of all of them. Highlights of standouts will have to suffice.

Firmly anchoring this stellar cast is Lucinda Hitchcock Cone as Nancy. Nancy has a lot to deal with as the instigator of the family breakup, and Ms. Cone is the glue that keeps everything and everyone together as they are falling apart. You know, what most moms do. Her humor, depth of feeling, and grace are wonderful to watch. Daughter-in-law Jess is wonderfully played by Ashley Garlick. God help her, Jess is a therapist dropped into a veritable asylum, and Ms. Garlick  handles all of the crazies with the patience of Job. Johnny Moreno is terrific as Ben, trying to keep everything together without falling apart himself. Judith Miller shines as Carla, the erstwhile girlfriend of Nancy’s husband Bill (the terrific Julian López-Morillas). Just because I can’t mention everybody in the cast does not mean their performances are not noteworthy. They are all excellent, and give wonderful performances of a great script.

Director Allison F. Rich guides the terrific cast through every nuanced beat on Robert Pickering’s magnificent set, expertly lit by Maurice Vercoutere. Sound designer Steve Schoenbeck makes it all sound terrific (and knows how to set a great mood with a fantastic soundtrack). Brooke Jennings’ costumes make everyone look precisely as they should.

Wherever you are in the Bay Area, make the trip to San Jose and see this great show. I guarantee you’ll laugh, you’ll learn a thing or two about relationships, and if you’re anything like me, your eyes will well up a bit. To me, that’s a great evening out at the theatre.

“Grand Horizons” continues at San Jose Stage Company through April 30. For more information, click here.


Rating: *** (For an explanation of Theatrestorm’s rating scale, click here.)


“Grand Horizons” by Bess Wohl. Produced by San Jose Stage Company. Director: Allison F. Rich. Scenic Designer: Robert Pickering. Costume Designer: Brooke Jennings. Lighting Designer: Maurice Vercoutere. Sound Designer: Steve Schoenbeck.


Bill: Julian López-Morillas. Nancy: Lucinda Hitchcock Cone. Ben: Johnny Moreno. Brian: Nick Mandracchia. Jess: Ashley Garlick. Tommy: Matthew Kropschot. Carla: Judith Miller

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s