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A lawn chair & a man yearning to slip the bonds of same-old

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A lawn chair & a man yearning to slip the bonds of same-old

Vince Peralta, center, and the rest of the cast perform onstage during the opening night Thursday of the Manteca Thespian Club's "Flight of the Lawnchair Man."

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED April 3, 2009 5:36 a.m.

Jerry Gorman wasn’t your typical big-town hero.

At 34 years old, Gorman – who had just been promoted to manage the shack back at his local Wal-Mart – was feeling more than just a little bit cooped up in a town where everyone else seemed to be getting further in life that he had in the nearly 20 years since he graduated high school.

But on Thursday night inside of the Dorothy Mulvihill Theater, Manteca High School Thespian Club Lead Jon Brandi managed to transform Gorman – the likable dreamer – into a character that just about everyone in that packed theater could have related to in some context.

With the unyielding support of girlfriend Gracie (played by Caitlin Pearsall) and the constant nagging of an overzealous mother with a questionable past (played by Kaitlin Helsley), Jerry is left to figure out what options he still has left on the table.

And they didn’t exactly start off looking very bright.

In the opening scene of “Flight of the Lawnchair Man”, Gorman starts off with a soliloquy that is less than cheerful as he wraps the noosed end of an extension cord around his neck and steps up onto a chair – contemplating the ultimate goodbye as a way to end his problems.

But thanks to the encouragement of Gracie, and Jerry’s own envy of suave airline pilot Big Jack and his absolutely hilarious flight attendant Blair (the duo played by Michael Freitas and Lauren Palmer), he starts to develop his own idea about how to follow his dreams and take to the skies.

After years of getting his dreams shot down, Jerry finally has an idea.

With an attempt to leave Wal-Mart in his past, Jerry takes an experience he saw with Gracie that dealt with a red balloon to eventually try and make one of his green army men fly to a tethered balloon.

One thing leads to another, and before you know it, Jerry Gorman is getting ready to take flight on his own with “400” helium balloons attached to a lawn chair.

And then the fun really begins.

With Gracie playing the role of ground control, Jerry starts to ascend towards the heavens where he crosses paths with his favorite pilot and fight attendance due at around 16,000 feet – something that draws the attention of the FAA and a dozen other government agencies that remind Gracie that “thanks to the Patriot Act there isn’t a whole lot they can’t do.”

But even as Jerry decided to finally come down, he gets visited by several historical figures with aeronautical experience themselves – including Leonardo Da Vinci that flapped his wings around when speaking to Gorman (played by Vince Peralta), Charles Lindbergh who talked to Jerry about what it was like to cross the Atlantic (played by Colby Peters), and Amelia Earhart (who almost flew around the globe.)

The experience with the three famous pilots gave Gorman a new perspective, and eventually gave him the outlook to spend as much time as possible floating above the earth and appreciating his venture.

With a run time of just under 90 minutes, Flight of the Lawnchair Man is a great musical performance that offers dancing, singing, and plenty of comedy to go along with the unique story.

Performances will be held tonight at 7 p.m. at the Dorothy Mulvihill Theater. Tickets are $5 for students and $6 for adults and all proceeds will benefit the Manteca High School Thespian Club. The grand finale of the three-night run will kick-off on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Tickets will be the same price.

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