Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Burg Review: Reflections, regrets in Theatre Harrisburg’s thoughtful, funny “Now and Then”

Theatre Harrisburg’s latest production, “Now and Then,” is a heartfelt romantic dramedy that challenges its characters’ decisions at critical crossroads, all within the confines of an Irish pub setting.

The play may be a locked-room piece set in a comfortable venue, yet the questions and potential scenarios posed are anything but. It’s a thought-provoking story about middle-aged people with regrets, and it’s a story about young people asking “Should I…?” about their futures.

Then when the liquor starts to flow, the conversation turns into a daring string of truth or dare questions: If you could travel back in time, what wisdom would you impart to your younger self? Where would you be if you turned left instead of right at that proverbial fork in the road? What would you change about your life if you had the opportunity? What if you lived your whole life, and you never figured out why you’re here? And because you’re drinking, there’s a desert island or a million dollars somewhere in the phrasing.

“Now and Then” is a newish play (2018) from playwright Sean Grennan, directed by Theatre Harrisburg’s Kelli Kauterman. Although the play likely isn’t familiar to you, the many themes that surface will feel like home. If you’re the type to lie awake at night, wincing or fantasizing about alternative endings for the embarrassing moments of your life, then this play will especially resonate with you.

Theatre Harrisburg’s Artistic and Production Director Kristi Ondo said, “‘Now and Then’ is about choices we make in life. It’s one of those plays that get people thinking and talking. I think audiences will like it and be surprised by it.”

It’s that word “surprise” that keeps this reviewer from fully unpacking the plot for you, dear readers.

But here’s the set-up: The year is 1981. Would-be musician/bartender Jamie (Mo Tanveer) is closing Mulligan’s Bar for the night. A mysterious older man (Craig Copas) wants to stay and drink for an hour, and he’s willing to pay Jamie and his girlfriend/waitress Abby (Sarah Pinter) $2,000 to hang out.

Jamie and Abby reluctantly indulge the stranger, sinking sideways into awkwardly deep conversations. The man seems unnervingly knowledgeable about and inappropriately engaged in the couple’s life decisions, making their once easy money decidedly uneasy. Then a fourth mystery character (Patty Cole) enters the eroding coziness of the bar, delivering hilariously vicious honesty that simultaneously hurt my heart and made me laugh.

All of the actors delivered excellent performances throughout, although revealing specifics (there were many) would surely spoil the surprise.

But I can tell you that, when the lights snapped off for intermission, I yelled, “NO!” probably a little too loudly. I would rather have sat in my fold-out chair with my urgently full bladder and empty candy wrappers than to even take a 15-minute break from the play.

Post-curtain, “Now and Then” inspired my plus-one and I to have a lively “third act”—intense examinations of different choices we might have made in life—all desert islands and million dollars aside.

I hope it inspires the same for you.

Now and Then runs through April 10 at the Krevsky Center, 513 Hurlock St., Harrisburg. For more information on show times and tickets, plus up-to-date COVID-19 protocol for attendance, visit

If you like what we do, please support our work. Become a Friend of TheBurg!

Continue Reading