Saturday, April 07, 2012

Don't Talk to the Actors

Tim Moyer, Kristin Wiegand, Lauren Rooney, Ellen Ratner,
Paul Dake, Joel Malazita
On the first day of rehearsal of the Broadway production of his sweet, heart-warming two-character play, neophyte playwright Jerry Przpezniak receives some sage advice from his director, Mike: "Don't talk to the actors." Luckily for the audience of Don't Talk to the Actors, currently playing at the Montgomery Theater in Souderton, Pennsylvania, Jerry doesn't exactly follow this advice. Soon he find himself hilariously in over his head dealing with the outside ego and honed manipulation skills of actor Curt Logan, who wants his role to have "more grit." It doesn't help that Jerry's fiancee Arlene, who is sitting in on rehearsal, has had a huge crush on Curt for years. Or that the other star of the show, the loud and bawdy Beatrice Pomeroy, wants her role to have more laughs, and maybe a song.

Playwright-director Tom Dudzick uses this situation to gently satirize theatre, New York, actors, and, well, humans. His delightful characters, his ability to write both jokes and character humor, and his clean, smooth, well-paced direction add up to an uproarious evening in the theater. One moment in particular stopped the show for, I would think, a full minute, as the theater shook with the audience's laughter.

The excellent cast includes Paul Dake, providing the perfect charm-smarm ratio as Curt; Kristin Wiegand, wonderfully intense as "the most sought-after stage manager on Broadway"; Ellen Ratner, an hysterical force of nature as Beatrice; Lauren Rooney, who gives full dimension to a character who is a bit too naive as written; Joel Malazita as Jerry, who takes a while to hit his stride but unravels beautifully; and Tim Moyer, the calm center amid the insanity.

The show takes a little too long to really get started, and the ending relies too much on what takes place off-stage, but in between is about two hours of solid laughter. What more could you want from a comedy?

(Fourth row center; free tickets. Disclosure: Tom Dudzick is my brother-in-law, but you don't need to take this review with a grain of salt. All those other people in the audience laughing their heads off were not Tom's relatives.) 


Paul Dake said...

Terrific! Thanks Wendy! - Paul

Wendy Caster said...

My pleasure. Literally.

Wendy Caster said...

There's going to be a production of Don't Talk to the Actors in Stony Point, NY, at the Penguin with Beth Fowler and Richard Kline.