A Play on Play Production
A Play On
PLAY ON Was A Gem of a Comedy
Opening the 2013-2014 Season with Rick Abbot’s PLAY ON, a gem of a comedy about the disastrous pitfalls of producing a play, the Sayville Players gave audiences a good laugh.
Within the story of the play, the cast of characters struggled with so many problems: their lines, the insane rewrites by a self-absorbed author, whether the cursed/poisoned “Delhi Diamond” necklace should be renamed the White Ruby of Ranchipur or even the Darjeeling Diamond (to disassociate it from deli liverwurst sandwiches), and basic production continuity issues like unfinished stage sets, sound-tech malfunctions, and misplaced props.
In contrast, the Sayville Players seemed at ease portraying the dreadful rehearsal with humor intact.
As each repetition of the play-within-the-play was “rehearsed” on the stage, the real audiences acquired a frame of reference for just how badly the “show” was progressing. By the Final Act of this coincidentally named Murder Most Foul murder mystery, when the actual performance was underway, even things that hadn’t gone wrong in rehearsals went hilariously wrong.
PLAY ON required a small company of actors to play the roles, but each Sayville Player made sure no part was small.
Beleaguered stage manager Aggie was sympathetically and humorously played by both Emily Llewllyn and Jessica Leigh-Manuell ; Director Gerry (embodied by Gina Mizzi and Emily Nowlan) had commandeering bark and witty bite; Technician Louise (through Eileen Monahan’s zing) delivered one-liners that showed no mercy; Playwright Phyllis (Gabby Giovan) or Philip (Jake Vail) were dithering, bothersome, and masterfully intrusive as the writer who cannot stop rewriting.
Nor could the “murder–mystery” be redeemed by its “actors.” Perpetuating this comedy of errors were:
- The ludicrous Henry Benish (Rowen Mahoney), as “Lord Dudley,” who sported a frozen grin and melodramatic pose every time the curtain opened (for which Rowen earned huge laughs!).
- Shirley MacLaine’s insightful quote: “You have to be talentedly insecure … to be a good actress” did NOT apply to not-so-good actress Polly Benish (although the good talents of Mary Nichols and Meghan Marshall, who shared the part, made the role uniquely amusing). As the wife of Henry and playing Lord Dudley’s wife “Lady Margaret,” Polly was just annoyingly insecure and easily outraged, perceiving every comment as a personal criticism, whether real or imaged.
- Fellow actor Saul Watson (mastered by Sean Valazquez) fed Polly’s imagination. No opportunity to insult his colleagues and their ineptitudes eluded him; but he was not without flaws—hitting the bottle on performance night rendered him inebriated and sloppy (enhanced by Sean for comic effect) as “Dr. Rex Forbes.”
- Actors and their characters; Billy Carewe as “Stephen Sellers” (played well and convincingly for laughs by both Jamie Baio and Sean McNally) and Violet Imbry (Angelina Keller and Savannah Votino added sparkle and glitz to their comedy) as “Dianna Lassiter” were secret sweethearts bumbling through both their onstage and off stage romance.
- Even Smitty (Dara Scolnick and Raven Dushnick who knew their places perfectly) was always on edge, but never on cue for her smallest of parts as “Doris the Maid.”
While “rumor” has it that actual lines may have occasionally been dropped and some scenes didn’t go according to plan every night for the Sayville Players, the clever layering of comic blunders throughout the entire production made it sometimes difficult to discern scripted from unscripted flubs. Thanks to the hard work of both the Sayville Players cast and crew, what was certain was that audiences enjoyed the “errors” as part of the overall live-theatre comedy-experience every night.
And now for something completely different:
WAITING IN THE WINGS
To paraphrase Director-Producer Steven Hailey; Due to so much comic talent among the Sayville Players, but too few roles, five Month Python skits showcased these blossoming talents in extra entertainment before PLAY ON began.
Kudos to the following (see below) Players who appeared in the “Blackout” skits entitled: “You Know You’ve Been in the Theatre to Long If…;” “The Alien in the Audience;” “Life is Like a Light Bulb;” “Peter’s In the Pokey;” “You Know You’ve Been Backstage Too Long If…;” and “the Interview;” (which segued into the production of PLAY ON):
Sydney Entin, Tim Treco, Claire Levy, Emily Osterloh, Meghan Fawcett, Cassandra Kroll, Isabella Lombardo, Gabby Giovan, and Jake Vail.