\’Wife begins at 40\’ at Playhouse

Eric Gustafson of Ashland and Carla Eighinger of Mansfield practice a scene as George and Linda in the upcoming Mansfield Playhouse production, "Wife Begins At Forty."

MANSFIELD — Seasoned actors, comedy and British accents add up to an evening of quality entertainment this weekend at the Mansfield Playhouse.

At 8 p.m. Friday, “Wife Begins at 40” kicks off at the Third Street theater.

“This tells the story of a woman who is about to reach 40, examines her life and decides something’s missing,” director Jacqueline Allen said. “She decides to separate from her husband, and he is devastated and moves out.”

In the meantime, character Linda Harper tries everything from yoga and painting to aerobics.

The couple reunites at Christmas and sparks fly.

“But the audience will be interested to know if they’re flames of passion — or flames of anger,” Allen said with a smile.

She noted the show has no offensive language, but it has enough sexual innuendos and adult humor that children should probably stay home.

Carla Eighinger, of Mansfield, plays Linda.

“Linda’s a party girl who likes to have fun,” she said. “Unfortunately, her husband George shows his love by making money and is usually too tired when he comes home to give her much attention. She loves him, but she’s frustrated at where they’re at in the relationship.

“I think a lot of people are going to be able to relate. Many times you’ll see couples who are just ‘there.’ That’s George and Linda.”

Her son Hayden Eighinger, 17, also plays her stage son, Leonard.

“She’s a lot less aggressive in the play,” he joked.

“It’s true,” Carla replied.

Although he realizes it’s “just acting,” Hayden admitted that it can be a bit strange to watch his mother married to another man.

Eric Gustafson, of Ashland, plays Linda’s husband, George.

His wife, Johnna Gustafson, also is in the play.

“We sit backstage and gag,” Hayden said of Johnna with a laugh.

Eric described George as “a man set in his ways.”

“He’s all about his work: He sells artificial flowers,” Eric said. “But his work ends up being a factor in his separation.”

Still, Eric said it’s a “happy-ending show.”

“Plus it’s funny — and the accents make it even funnier,” he said.

With white shoe polish in his hair, John Moser plays George’s father, Bernard.

“I come on stage basically to say witty, charming things — that’s about it,” Moser said. “It’s a funny, light-hearted show. A great date show.”

Twitter: @JamiKinton