June 8 2011 12:00 AM

It’s a comic culture clash in ’Gemini’


When Michigan State University’s Summer Circle Theatre
opens its 51st season tonight with “Gemini,” the focus will be on family
— and, according to its director, this family will most certainly be

“This is a really sort of a lowbrow comedy that has some
heart,” said Rob Roznowski. “The way these people talk to each other can
be so awful, but you can see the love underneath.”

Written by Albert Innaurato, “Gemini” unfolds in the
backyard of a blue-collar Philadelphia neighborhood, circa 1973, where
Francis Geminiani has returned home for his summer break from Harvard.
While celebrating his 21st birthday with his divorced father and a
motley crew of neighbors and loved ones, Francis is stunned by the
arrival of his two wealthy classmates, one of whom is the object of the
closeted Francis’ secret adoration.

“It’s about accepting yourself," Roznowski said. "Only by truly accepting yourself can you accept your family.”

But in Francis’ family, understanding doesn’t come so easily.

“I love that it’s hilariously upsetting. It’s so warped — it’s family,” Roznowski said.

 The Summer Circle season features free theater along the Red Cedar River.  Roznowski called "Gemini" the “perfect show to be staged outside.”

“You can relate to all of the characters,
and amidst all the yelling and the screaming there are some very sweet
moments,” he said.

The director also has a light-hearted
warning for the audience: “There’s a lot of food being thrown, so be
careful sitting in the front row.”

Prior to the Friday and Saturday’s performances of
"Gemini," director Edward O’Ryan’s hour-long improvisational “The
Commedia Project” — based on the Italian Commedia dell’ Arte style —
takes the stage at 6 p.m.

MSU Summer Circle Theatre
8 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, Thursday, June 9, Friday, June 10, and Saturday, June 11
Outdoor theater behind the MSU Auditorium, along the Red Cedar River