On a Bare Stage, Character Takes the Spotlight
For years, the Sayville Players workshops or theatre labs have been special opportunities to challenge each Player to refine the craft of acting without the benefit of a fully dressed stage. The focus has always been on “the character” and the actor’s technique to connect with audiences.
So again this year, within the intimate setting of the Back Stage Theatre where the Actors Workshop production of An Evening with William Inge was performed, the stage was set with the barest essentials to support the scene—sometimes with no props at all—as the actors took the spotlight. Six of the Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright’s early works tested the thespian troupe in scenarios about suspicion, celebrity, love and loss, and while some roles had two casts over the four-day spread, each of the Sayville Players accepted the challenge with convincing portrayals and well-executed characterizations.
- “The Tiny Closet” - Audiences were amused when Mrs. Crosby (Kaitlin Maher, Eileen Monahan), the Boarding House owner, encouraged by her inquisitive friend (Samantha LoGrippo, Emily Osterloh), harbors absurd suspicions about her blameless tenant Mr. Newbold (Sean McNally) and the contents in his tiny closet.
- “To Bobolink, for her Spirit” - Who couldn’t be immensely entertained by autograph hound Bobolink (Meghan Fawcett) as she regales her friend Nellie (Katie Kohn) and other initiates, Renee, Frieda, Gretchen (Jacqueline Weinfeld/Emma Vall, Jaclyn Parcelluzzi, Samantha LoGrippo) with her grand success stories about winning Tyrone Power’s autograph? While dispensing expert advice to the younger star-struck fans, Bobolink is the fanatic’s model of long-suffering patience as she awaits Perry Como’s appearance outside the 21 Club.
- “Bus Riley’s Back in Town” - Comedy gave way to the broken dreams in the next installment. At a run-down hotel in a small Texas town where traveling salesperson (Rowen Mahoney) makes her scheduled stop, Hotel manager Maggie (Jaclyn Parcelluzzi/Eileen Monahan) shares the latest about former sweethearts Bus Riley (Sean McNally) and Jackie Loomis (Dea Ahlgrin/Gena Mizzi). The couple’s once-fiery love has become embers among the ruins, thanks to machinations of Jackie’s disreputable father and the ongoing interventions from ‘well-meaning’ friends (Olivia Anderson, Alex Pittari).
- “Strains of Triumph” – A love triangle, like a competition, has triumphs and defeats. In this one act, Ann and Tom (Dea Ahlgrim/Rowen Mahoney, Alex Pittari) celebrate their declarations of love for each other, despite Ann’s long-standing relationship with their mutual friend, Ben (Sean McNally). Set before a ”imagined” backdrop of a championship track race, Ben’s teammates (Katie Kohn/Zoe Rivera, Kaitlyn Maher/ Mikayla Zeman) judge him harshly as a loser for not participating, not realizing his despondency is the result of the much greater defeat. Above the fray of sentiment as one who has survived defeat, Professor Benoit (Gena Mizzi/Jaclyn Parcelluzzi) offers perspective and consolation to Ben.
- “A Social Event” - Comedy returned in this one act about Hollywood shallowness, deftly personified by Mr. and Mrs. Brooks (Alex Pittari, Olivia Anderson/Dara Scolnick). The couple will do anything to attend a high profile social event with celebrities, even if it means going to the a funeral with their maid, Muriel (Meghan Fawcett).
- “People in the Wind” – this one act examined a group of travelers making a brief pit stop at a bus stop somewhere in Kansas. Emotional Elma (Dara Scolnick/Jaclyn Parcelluzzi) and practical Grace (Emma Vall, Emily Osterloh) run a café with limited resources as all kinds of passengers trickle in for service: a young woman (Mikayala Zema/Zoe Rivera) with plans for stardom in Hollywood; a tragically comic drunk (Sean McNally) whose real problems stemmed from the bottle; two elderly women (Erika Powers and Jacqueline Weinfeld) worrying about new household demands; Bud (Sean Valazquez) the bus driver who has a heart and has seen it all; and “the cowboy” (Alex Pittari) with more than a crush on the Hollywood-bound starlet.
Congratulations to the troupe of Players who demonstrated diverse talents while delivering great character.