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Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Chevy Chase Players Play it Again, Sam

By • Mar 10th, 2008 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of the Chevy Chase Players’ production of Play it Again, Sam [MP3 6:21 2.9MB].

Play it Again, Sam
Chevy Chase Players
Chevy Chase Community Center, Washington DC
$15/$13 Seniors and Students
Through March 22nd

Mike: This is the ShowBizRadio review of Play it Again, Sam performed by the Chevy Chase Players in Washington DC. Laura and I saw the performance on Saturday evening, March 8, 2008.

Laura: While this show had the potential to be really funny, and there were a few funny bits and funny action on stage, it just didn’t measure up to some of the other productions we’ve seen at Chevy Chase Players. The timing was off, the lighting was not real good. It was just a long show to sit through.

Mike: Unfortunately, I agree. This show was pretty bad. The acting was pretty flat and the lighting effects were pretty horrible. It had a few moments of good laughter, but for the most part it was just not a good production.

Play it Again, Sam is a play by Woody Allen written in 1969. It’s the story of Allan Felix whose wife has left him. Allan is a film writer for a magazine. His friends Dick and Linda come out to support him after his wife has left. They try to set him up with their friends. Unfortunately each date ends in a disaster of some sort. Allan gets through these disasters with the help of a rich imagination, including speaking with Humphrey Bogart who gives him advice about each situation. Eventually Allan falls in love with the perfect girl, unfortunately though she is already married.

Laura: Allan Felix, the recently jilted husband of Nancy Felix, was played by Sam McCormally. His portrayal was just very flat. He seemed to wait until the other actors had finished their lines, took a beat, and then said his line. This show I think is all about timing and I just didn’t see it Saturday night.

Mike: I will say he was a good sport about it. For example he had a really interesting dance with a Go-Go Girl.

The person who was helping Allan the most with reentering the dating scene was Linda Christie, played by Lindsay Moore. I wish there had been more of a connection between the two performers. The show was supposed to feature their relationship getting closer. Other than their neuroses and fears about being sick and things, there just wasn’t much of a connection between the two of them on stage. They both appeared to be fairly stiff and thinking, instead of being the persons that they were portraying.

Allan’s best friend Dick Christie was played by Greg Lipper. His performance was fairly flat, except when he was in a fantasy sequence as the crazed jilted Italian lover who was getting his revenge. That scene was pretty well done.

Laura: The girls that Allan met all had very small parts. They were only on stage for a couple of minutes.

Mike: It was interesting. We saw Montgomery Playhouse’s Six Degrees of Separation and complained that the characters had small parts, but they had a lot of parts to do so they had to get off the stage quickly and change appearance. In this show you had six different people who had very small scenes, and that’s all they did. It’s an interesting problem in keeping your actors really involved in a show and overcommitting the actors to having lots of parts in a show.

Laura: The set for Play it again, Sam was fine. The Set Designer was Neil Edgell. It all took place in Felix’s living room of his apartment in New York. There was plenty of room for him to knock stuff over which he did quite effectively.

Mike: I really think the set for the apartment should have been more complete. There were only four picture posters on the wall. There was a stereo. You had a stack of records and a sofa. A lamp that had the cord wrapped around the base of the lamp instead of running down behind the base of the sofa so you could think it was plugged in. There was no light bulb in the lamp which was obvious in a later scene when the lamp got knocked over. It just felt thrown together very quickly and was actually distracting. For someone who was suppose to be as neurotic as Allan Felix is, it just didn’t feel right. They did have about half of the set as a blank area that was used for each of the different areas for fantasies about the different dates. That worked pretty well. But all in all it felt pretty thrown together and I was not pleased with the set.

Laura: One of the things that was really distracting with the show was the lighting. The lighting was designed by Jim Robertson. It was inconsistent. There were times when the dream sequence was happening, but the lights were all on like it was daylight and then halfway through the lights would go down and it was just very incomplete.

Mike: There was one scene near the end of the show where Allan was on the sofa with Linda and he was trying to decide if he should kiss her or make a move or not, and Humphrey Bogart appeared. So the entire lighting switched to being a fantasy sequence, but it was actually both. It was Allan on the couch with Linda and Humphrey Bogart behind him giving him advice while he was on the couch. The lighting implied it was all a fantasy, but it wasn’t and that made it inconsistent. I really didn’t like the execution of the lighting.

One thing that might have been a problem with the lighting was the Stage Manager was Sarah Daisy Splitt. She also played two of the characters on stage. The problem with the lighting could have been that the stage manager was not available to call the cues for some of the scenes. (Update: See comments below)

One thing that we noticed that was apparently an attempt at updating the script a little bit was having Dick Christie contact his office every time he came into Allan’s apartment. When he came in he would give his office his current phone number, email address, and IM address. It seems that those wouldn’t be changing. He also gave his blackberry contact information, which is basically a cell phone. Why would he have to keep calling his office to say he’s on his cell phone? That attempt at updating really didn’t work well.

Laura: Play it Again, Sam is playing through Saturday, March 22nd. Fridays at 8 PM and Saturdays at 7:30 at the Chevy Chase Community Center in Washington DC. The show lasted one hour and forty minutes with one intermission.

Mike: And now, on with the show.

  • Allan Felix: Sam Cormally
  • Nancy Felix: Blair Mersinger
  • Bogart: Lou Zammicheli
  • Dick Christie: Greg Lipper
  • Linda Christie: Lindsay Moore
  • Dream Sharon: Elisabeth Cook
  • Sharon Lake: Sarah Daisy Splitt
  • Gina: Amanda Kirby
  • Vanessa: Elisabeth Cook
  • Go-Go Girl: Maria Spangenberg
  • Intellectual Girl: Sarah Daisy Splitt
  • Barbara Tyler: Lisa Swineheart

Crew

  • Producer: Kim Dandolph
  • Director: Peter Chewning
  • Assistant Director: Judy Meschel
  • Choreographer: Maria Spangenberg
  • Prop Mistress: Blair Mersinger
  • Set Designer: Neil Edgell
  • Lighting Designer: Jim Robertson
  • Set Construction Chief: John Vandegriff
  • Set Constructiion Crew: Kim Randolph, Neil Edgell, Jr., Lisa Swineheart, Lindsay Moore, Peter Chewning
  • Sound Design: Peter Chewning, Neil Edgell, Jr.
  • Sound Operations: Peter Chewning
  • Light Operations: Kim Randolph
  • Program: Neil Edgell
  • Photography, Website Manager: Neil Edgell
  • Box Office/Hospitality/House Manager: Joanne Young-Chewning, Helen Templin, Mike Bindner, Bill Brenner, Mary Anne Peterson, Stephen Peterson, John Vandegriff, Brenda Shaw, Brian Nelson, Claudia Bocock, Harriet Belemker, Jerry Belemker, Clara Diehl, Marjorie Townsend, Marie Shirey, Day Walters, Lelia Moors
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This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/2203.

started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

2 Responses »

  1. Were you watching the same play that I have been watching? I thought the set was incredibly well thought out, given the parameters of the show. It was a “minimalist” set, and as such was supposed to leave something to the viewer’s imagination.

    What you saw was the second show, the timing on the lights was a little off that night, I agree. However, as the show’s performances have gone on, the lighting has become much more spot on and much better.

    The second night of opening weekend always seems to be a show with not as much energy as the opening night. There were also the distractions of the noise from elsewhere in the Center that could easily have been distracting to the actors.

    I am actually part of the Chevy Chase Players group, and while I can see some of your comments as legitimate, I just wanted to say that I think you probably saw the least of the show’s performances that night.

    This show has spawned a new crop of actors and actresses, and much needed new blood and energy for the Players group. They are not perfect, then again, neither is Community Theatre.

    I wish you would give the play a “secoind chance”, or view a later performance before making your judgments. Again, I did appreciate the comments, but also felt that knowing the purpose of the set, the lighting, etc., would have helped to make what I feel to be a more fair assessment.

    I am sorry you didn’t like the show. I hope that will not dissuade you from viewing CCP Plays in the future. For future reference, however, you are probably going to see a better production if you come to a later show, and not the second night of opening weekend.

    To conclude, and FWIW, Ms.Splitt was not calling the cues that night, or any other night. Her name was listed as Stage Manager in error. She only had the duties of the roles in which she was cast.

    Again, sorry you did not like the play. I hope you can still appreciate the work and effort of the cast and crew to bring it to you and entertain. Your comments actually surprised me, since overall response to the play “Play It Again Sam” has really been quite positive.

    Thanks for your time and review.

  2. Hi Joanne,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve cleaned up our crew list above, and added a note to the transcript where I discuss the stage manager issue.

    As I’m sure you know, there is a ton of community theatre in the DC region. It simply isn’t feasible to see shows twice if the first performance isn’t 100% great. Some weekends, such as the upcoming May 2-4 weekend, it isn’t even possible to see every show that is playing. We do like Chevy Chase though. Last year’s Wait Until Dark was excellent (we named it a Stand Out!), and the Memory of Water in December was pretty good. Anytime a production is open to the public for a performance, the people involved with it need to give 100%.

    We’re definitely not the final opinion on theater in the region, and hopefully no critic ever is. We do try to encourage live theater through everything we do.