REVIEW: Family Dynamics are the Foundation of ‘Harry Townsend’s Last Stand’ at Meadow Brook Theatre

As kids, we can’t wait to get older and be able to do grown-up things like drive, stay up late, or have ice cream for breakfast. Yet, somewhere in all the excitement of spreading our wings, we forget that as we age, so do our parents. This role reversal is at the heart of Harry Townsend’s Last Stand, running until Sunday, April 16, 2023, at Meadow Brook Theatre (MBT) on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills, MI.

Written by George Eastman, Harry Townsend’s Last Stand focuses on the father/son relationship between Harry (Mark Rademacher) and his son, Alan (Craig Bentley). Set in the present at the family chalet in picturesque Vermont, where Harry and his late wife lived for 35 years. Alan arrives from California to spend time with his dad and give his twin sister Sarah (who is never seen) a break from caring for Harry – “You come with a full set of instructions,” quips Alan.

Mark Rademacher as Harry Townsend in ‘Harry Townsend’s Last Stand’ at MBT. Photo courtesy of Sean Carter Photography

At nearly 85 years old, Harry is spunky, cheeky, and a bit reckless. He fondly remembers his youthful antics, delights in his romantic memories of his wife (to the embarrassment of Alan), and treasures the social standing he once held in the community. Like most parents, he thinks his son should visit him more often. Harry also gets defensive when his independence is challenged, and he hates the fact that his family is trying to force him to change.

The opposite of his dad personality-wise, Alan is flip, efficient, and sarcastic. Partly because that is his character and partly as a coping mechanism for growing up in the shadow of Harry’s larger-than-life persona. Sarah has been sharing with Alan the changes in their dad, but it is obvious from the moment he arrives the shock of seeing it firsthand. There are piles of clothes everywhere. Dishes in odd places and at least a half dozen cracker boxes on the counter well past their ‘best by’ date. To Harry, it’s home. He knows where everything is, and the chaos suits him just fine. Whereas all Alan sees is evidence that his dad should no longer live alone.

In his director notes, Travis W. Walter says, “I would like to thank George Eastman for writing a show that is universal, dealing with real-life situations that all of us come up against in our lives.” I can attest to how accurate the situations presented in this play are. The conversations between Harry and Alan are the same as I’ve had with my mom. These are difficult, but necessary conversations and no one has a blueprint for how they should go. The back-and-forth banter between the characters is moving and honest. You understand where both men are coming from, with Harry even telling Alan that he wants them to talk as father and son, not father versus son. Those of us who have navigated similar situations know how delicate that balance is. Even though some of the interactions are at times painfully relatable, the good news is there is also humor.

Exasperated that Harry doesn’t seem to be understanding the gravity of his situation, Alan asks him, “Do you take anything seriously?” To which Harry replies, “My family and my bowels.” The play is peppered with gems like this, which helps keep it from feeling too heavy.

Watching our parents age isn’t fun. Their loss of identity or feeling no longer useful or needed is scary. Harry Townsend’s Last Stand reminds us that it is alright for both sides to be scared and confused; even sad at the changes that come for us all. The crowd was on the older side at the preview I attended, and I could tell how much they connected with the performance. This play isn’t designed to make you sad, but rather to let you know you’re not alone. Rademacher and Bentley do a superb job conveying the nuances of this relationship and I highly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and seeing this gem of a play. After all, we’re not getting any younger.

Harry Townsend’s Last Stand is directed by Travis W. Walter. Scenic design is by Brian Kessler, costume design by Liz Goodall, lighting design by Brian Debs, and sound design by Mike Duncan. Brittanie Nichole Sicker is the stage manager and Stacy White is the assistant stage manager.

This performance runs approximately two hours with a 15-minute intermission.

MBT has rated this show for high school age and up.  

Tickets range from $37 to $46 and are available by calling the Meadow Brook Theatre box office at 248-377-3300 or going online at Student discounts are available at the box office. Groups of eight or more should call 248-370-3316 for group pricing.

In addition to this wonderful show, Walter delighted the audience by announcing the upcoming shows for the 2023 – 2024 season that includes a surprise, the classic comedy Father of the Bride, the musical revue Route 66, and four Michigan premieres. Perhaps the best news is that there will be no raise in ticket prices! Check out or call the box office at 248-377-3300

for more information.

About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at


  1. Great review and great play. I think it’s the best thing I’ve seen on any stage in the past year, including Broadway.

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