The Porch on Windy Hill at Merrimack Rep

Mar 9, 2024
The Porch on Windy Hill at Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Continuing its 45th season, Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) welcomes The Porch on Windy Hill to the Liberty Hall stage. The Porch on Windy Hill tells the story of bi-racial Korean classical violinist, Mira, and her music history, grad-student boyfriend, Beck, as they escape COVID isolation to the mountains of North Carolina. Their journey takes a surprising turn when they meet Edgar, and Mira faces a flood of memory, pain, hope, and discovery that follows. Originally staged at The Ivoryton Playhouse in CT, The Porch on Windy Hill begins its run on April 3rd through April 21st at MRT.

The Porch on Windy Hill at Merrimack Repertory Theatre

The idea for The Porch on Windy Hill emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic when Sherry Stregack Lutken desired to write a 3-act play "wound around an American family's cultural and generational divisions, isolation, self-examination and the hope of reunion, with music as the catalyst." Recruiting the likes of actors/writers Lisa Helmi Johanson, Morgan Morse, and David M. Lutken early in the process, writing for the play occurred over Zoom. The Porch on Windy Hill came to fruition six months later with a world premiere in September 2021 at Ivoryton Playhouse.

"The idea grew out of the pandemic, the current events swirling around us, and the desire to tell a story that reflected what was happening in our country. The Ivoryton Playhouse had been unable, due to financial fallout on the theater from the pandemic, to produce a larger show that I was scheduled to direct, and we were presented with an extraordinary chance to create something completely original for their fall production. Our 'play with music,' The Porch on Windy Hill, resulted from that opportunity," said Lutken in an interview with Northlight Theatre's artistic director B.J. Jones.

The Porch on Windy Hill has received rave reviews since its world premiere. Josh Flanders at the Chicago Reader described the production as "a delight from beginning to end." Noel Scheter of NewCity Stage writes that the cast is "simply exceptional with all three members proving adept not only in nailing the dramatic moments but also in playing folk instruments involving everything from a dulcimer to an erhu (a Chinese two-stringed bowed musical instrument)." Mira Tenkin at Splash Magazine calls the play "an unexpected combination of joy and discovery along with past pain and racism come together in this story of an Appalachian family's varied roots and the music that binds them over the generations."