Bess Wohl shows a side of society not often seen in ‘Grand Horizons’

Bess Wohl
Bess Wohl.

On Aug. 7, People’s Light will open its latest show, which also happens to be a 2020 Tony Award Nominee for Best Play from Bess Wohl. Directed by Jackson Gay, ‘Grand Horizons’ is set over a quiet dinner, where a couple— Bill and Nancy—decide to divorce after 50 years of marriage.

The plot from Wohl in the show was actually born out of another idea for a play, and one that was conceived locally.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Bess and Jackson again,” explains People’s Light Producing Artistic Director Zak Berkman in a statement. “What’s especially exciting about this production is that ‘Grand Horizons’ can trace some of its origins back to People’s Light. While working on another play, Bess came here for a mini playwright residency during which she visited local senior living facilities to interview residents about marriage, romance, and sex at that stage in their lives. That original script never came to fruition, but some of its DNA became Grand Horizons.” 

“Another early inspiration for Grand Horizons emerged from conversations I had with several friends whose parents were going through a divorce in their mid-70s,” adds Wohl. “This cultural phenomenon—dubbed ‘gray divorce’—piqued my interest.” 

Bess Wohl
Marcia Saunders plays Nancy.Provided

Wohl has gained national acclaim as both a playwright and screenwriter whose work has been nominated for Tony, Drama League, Lucille Lortel, and Drama Desk awards. Wohl’s work has also reached the top ten lists in The New York Times, The New York Post, and The Guardian— and one of which last appeared on the People’s Light stage in 2013. That year, ‘Barcelona’, was also directed by Jackson Gay, who returns to helm ‘Grand Horizons’ with Wohl. 

“What I love about Bess’ writing is her great ability to find humor in the everyday,” shares Gay in another statement. “Her work is full of compassion for human beings, and ‘Grand Horizons’ is no exception. The play explores characters who simply want to be seen, and all the hilarious ways they try to make that happen.”

The official description for the show gives more insight on what audiences can expect: “While Nancy feels liberated and Bill seems unfazed, their adult sons Brian and Ben don’t exactly take it well. As the kids descend on the Grand Horizons senior living community in an attempt to mediate, everything they thought they knew about their parents comes crashing down. Grand Horizons is a hilarious, heartbreaking commentary on marriage, family, and the wisdom that comes with age—or not.”

‘Grand Horizons’ stars People’s Light company members Peter DeLaurier (‘Our Town’, ‘For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday’, ‘Morning’s at Seven’) and Marcia Saunders (‘The Children’, ‘For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday’, ‘Morning’s at Seven’) as Bill and Nancy. The remaining cast will all make their People’s Light debuts: Dante Alexander as Ben, Jenelle Chu as Jess, Luis Augusto Figueroa as Tommy, Zuleyma Guevara as Carla, and Brian McManamon as Brian, a release states. 

The show opens next month and will play until the end of the summer on Aug. 28.

Bess Wohl
Peter DeLaurier plays Bill.Provided


“I always look for stories I’ve never seen onstage before, and there is a void in our culture when it comes to portrayals of older people, especially older women,” finishes Wohl in another statement. “We often see these characters pushed to the sidelines and denied the full scope of their humanity. With this play, I wanted to bring them center stage.” 

Grand Horizons previews Aug. 3-6 and opens with an invite-only performance on Aug. 7. For information and tickets, visit or call 610-644-3500.