Birthday Candles

by Noah Haidle
Directed by James F. Petsche

Production Kickoff: February 02, 2025

Audition: February 23, 2025

Performance Dates

May 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, & 17, 2025 at 8:00PM
May 4, 11, & 18, 2025 at 2:00PM

Unless specifically noted, all roles are open to all regardless of race or ethnicity.

  • There are 12 roles that will be played by 6 actors, 3 men and 3 women.
  • Four actors in the company are cast in multiple roles, mostly as Ernestine's family members in succeeding generations. By design, the ages of the actors need not be specific.
  • The play runs 90-100 minutes without intermission.

  • Ernestine Ashworth – Travels from ages 17 to 107. She will be a daughter, a girlfriend, a wife, a mother, a friend, an aunt, a mother-in-law, a widow, a second wife, a grandmother, a great grandmother, and a great-great grandmother.
    The actor cast in the role of Ernestine is on stage for the entire show. She is also actively baking a cake through the run of the play, set entirely in a kitchen in a Grand Rapids, Michigan home.
  • Kenneth – Ernestine's awkward and annoying next-door neighbor.
    The actor cast in the role of Kenneth plays only that one role.
  • Actor 1
    • Alice - Selfless. Strong. Ernestine's mother.
    • Madeline - Troubled. Bemused. Beautiful. Erudite. Ernestine and Matt's daughter.
    • Ernie - Ethereal. Vivacious. She doesn't walk, she glides. Alex's daughter.
  • Actor 2
    • Matt - Chiseled jawline. A middle linebacker on the high school football team. Ernestine's boyfriend then husband.
    • William - Thirteen. Grand.
  • Actor 3
    • Billy - Sensitive. An ear for music. Ernestine and Matt's son.
    • John - A man woken up in the middle of the night.
  • Actor 4
    • Joan - Anxious. Very anxious. Billy's wife.
    • Alex - Takes no bullshit. Billy and Joan's daughter.
    • Beth - John's domestic partner, she quit smoking ten years ago and hasn't been in a good mood since.

Ernestine Ashworth spends her 17th birthday agonizing over her insignificance in the universe. Soon enough, it's her 18th birthday. Even sooner, her 41st. Her 70th. Her 101st. Five generations, an infinity of dreams, and one cake baked over a century. This poignant and funny play takes its audience through the highlights, heartbreaks, and extraordinary moments that make up one woman's ordinary life.

Jim Petsche is a veteran Curtain Player whose directing credits at the Harlem Road playhouse include Marvin's Room, Fireflies, The Trip to Bountiful, The Outgoing Tide, and The Dining Room. A former president of the community theatre company, he is a recipient of one of the group's highest honors, the Richard D. Near Award. He acted in Curtain stagings of The Diary of Anne Frank, Dinner with Friends, The Boys Next Door, and To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, among others. Jim has received Central Ohio Theatre Roundtable and regional Ohio Community Theatre Association awards for his performances.


  • Production Kickoff: Sunday, February 02, 2025, 6:30 pm
  • Audition: Sunday, February 23, 2025


Script review, auditions, and performances take place at:
Curtain Players Theatre
5691 Harlem Road, Galena, OH 43021

Curtain Players offers an information session for each of its productions as a help for actors seeking roles, but attendance is not required to audition. The event is an opportunity for actors to become acquainted with the community theatre organization, to discuss the play with the director, and to ask questions about the audition process, rehearsal period, and production plans. Those interested in working behind the scenes are also invited to attend.

Curtain Players conducts open auditions for its productions. Roles are not cast in advance, and, unless specified otherwise in the role's description, are open to all without regard to race or ethnicity. Casting decisions are made by the director and a casting committee comprised of a member of the theatre board, a general member of the organization, and individuals of the director's choosing.

Actors are strongly advised to be familiar with the Birthday Candles script and, if possible, take advantage of the production kickoff although attendance is not a prerequisite for auditioning. At the audition, actors will read from the script, guaranteed at least two chances do so. Cuttings will be made available at the production kickoff or upon request by emailing Jim Petsche, production director. There will be no callbacks. Actors will notified of casting within 48 hours of the audition.

Requests for an early audition for Birthday Candles must be made no later than February 09, 2025.

Questions related to the audition process may be directed to

Rehearsals will begin in late February beginning with read-throughs, character work, and blocking. Actors can expect to rehearse as often as three to five times a week during the production period. The director will set a detailed schedule taking into account actors' conflicts and rehearsal space availability. Several dates on the schedule will be mandatory, including a theatre photo night (date to be determined) and Tech Week beginning Sunday, April 27, and leading up to opening night Friday, May 2.
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