Humor, Pathos In CCTC/HJT Play About AA Founders

By: Jennifer Sexton-Riley

Phillip Scudder and Ted Vitale in “Bill W. and Dr. Bob.”

From Oct. 11 to Nov. 11, Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre (CCT/HJT) will present a humorous, heartwarming play about two alcoholics who joined forces in 1935 to create Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the original 12-step organization which today helps some two million members in 180 countries worldwide.

“Bill W. and Dr. Bob,” written by Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey, has received international critical acclaim. The CCT/HJT production will be directed by Susan Kosoff, founder of the Wheelock Family Theatre.
In 1929, New York stockbroker Bill Wilson “crashed” along with the stock market and became an alcoholic. Through a series or unlikely events, he met Dr. Bob Smith, a surgeon from Ohio, who had been an alcoholic for 30 years. The pair formed a bond and a friendship which brought about the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous, an international mutual aid fellowship whose stated purpose is to enable its members to “stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.”
Kosoff described the play as humorous, yet also filled with important, meaningful messages.
“It seems to me particularly relevant today, in the midst of an opiate epidemic,” Kosoff said. “There are many lessons to be learned from this. This play doesn't employ a didactic approach or come across as preachy. Instead it really speaks of the potential we have for change and the need we have for other people. This is the story of a program that works, and the notion of anonymity was significant and important to that process.”
Kosoff explains that the play is also the story of friendship between the characters and the importance of having people in one's life who accept and care about you unconditionally.
“People don't necessarily realize how much these issues affect so many people,” Kosoff said. “There are so many people affected. I hope that making that realization helps people to become more empathetic. Anything that can help people become more sensitive and less judgmental is a good thing, especially if that can be achieved through laughter.”
 The cast includes local theater favorites James P. Byrne, Kathy Hamilton, Sherrie Scudder, Phillip Scudder, Jane Staab and Ted Vitale.
“The cast is quite wonderful,” Kosoff said. “They are talented visual actors and a great ensemble. They make the story come alive. It has been a great experience for me to work with all of them, both those I have worked with in the past and the individuals who are new to me with this production. I like that balance.”
Performances will take place on Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for anyone under the age of 21. School matinees are being planned for grades eight to 12 on Oct. 24 at 9:30 a.m. Following each Sunday matinee, CCTC/HJT Producing Artistic Director Nina Schuessler will lead talkbacks with the audience along with invited addiction specialists.


Bill W. and Dr. Bob”
At Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre
Box office: 508-432-2002