Rep’s ‘Wandaleria’ Mixes Fantasy and Reality

Scott Stekel, playing Rocky, hands flowers to Annette Schuler, playing Wanda Mae Pretty, while acting out a scene with Becca Messick, playing Ivy, and Pam Whitfield, playing Betsy, during a rehearsal for the play on Nov. 7, 2019 at Rochester Repertory Theatre. (Traci Westcott /

“Imagination is silly,” Frank Sinatra sang, “you go around willy-nilly.”

That’s the problem for Wanda in the play “Wandaleria,” which opens Nov. 22 at the Rochester Repertory Theatre.

Wanda adds spice to her dull life with an active imagination — but before long, reality shows up and being willy-nilly isn’t much silly fun anymore.

“She’s a slug,” Debbie Fuehrer, who is directing the show, said of Wanda. “She’s got a boring life, watches TV all day.”

The dreams make Wanda’s life more interesting. But dreams turn into reality when her prison pen pal shows up at her house looking for a place to stay.

Fuehrer said the play mixes fantasy and reality, as well as humor and sadness.

“It’s a little more light-hearted,” she said. “You have the humor, but in the second act you have that poignancy.”

Fuehrer has cast Annette Schuler as Wanda, with Scott Stekel as the pen pal, Pam Whitfield as Wanda’s no-nonsense roommate, Becca Messick as Wanda’s restless niece Ivy, and Scott Koon and Jim Hencinski playing a variety of fantasy characters.

Playwright David Valdes, who lives in Boston, will be at the Rep for the opening weekend of the show. Fuehrer was in a Valdes play, “Brave Navigator,” several years ago, and wanted to direct one of his shows this season at the Rep.

Many audience members will likely see themselves in the play, Fuehrer said.

“I hope they walk away feeling uplifted, and that someone understands what they’re going through,” she said. “A lot of people are living lives of quiet desperation.” People face a daily barrage of news reports, obligations, demands.

“If they walk away knowing if they can make a connection with another person, healing can take place,” Fuehrer said.

Tom Weber, Post-Bulletin, November 13, 2019


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