Spotlight on Laurel Mill Playhouse’s Play It Again, SamBy Laura & Mike Clark • Oct 8th, 2009 • Category: Interviews
Laurel Mill Playhouse
Laurel Mill Playhouse, Laurel, MD
Through October 18th
$13/$10 Seniors and Students
Interviewed September 30th, 2009
Mike: This is Mike Clark with Show Biz Radio. Today I am talking with Keith Brown, who is the director for Laurel Mill Playhouse’s production of Play It Again, Sam. Thank you for talking with me, Keith.
Keith: Thank you very much.
Mike: So what is Play it Again, Sam about? Give us a synopsis.
Keith: The main character’s name is Allen Felix and and he has just had a recent divorce. He is getting back in to the dating scene. This is set in the late 60’s early 70’s era of New York city. He’s got a friend and his wife who are his close friends and they are helping set up some dates with him and basically it’s the disasters that happen upon his dates and the fact that the person he has the most in common with ends up being his best friend’s wife. You have to find out if that is going to lead anywhere or if he’s going to find love in some other direction.
Mike: Is it a serious play or a comedy?
Keith: Oh, it’s an absolute comedy. Woody Allen in what people call his early stages of comedy. It is right around the time of Take The Money and Run, and just before Annie Hall. It has the old Woody and some of the newer stuff that came in with Annie Hall and Manhatten and his other New York comedies. It is definitely Woody Allen’s take on New York City and the dating scene of that time.
Mike: So what makes it the 60’s or the 70’s?
Keith: It was written in that era and the references are just so of that era. We would have had to change plot points and dialogue and you do not try to mess up much with Woody Allen’s dialogue if you can help it. A lot of the running gag is that his man, his best friend is constantly checking his answering service. Today with cell phones and Blackberry’s and things like that it just does not exist anymore. It’s just too good a joke to take out of the play. It is definitely of that era to be considered.
Dating is dating in any era so people will recognize his problems whether they are 1960’s, 1970’s or 2009. The dating scene is pretty much the dating scene. The disasters that befall him when he tries to impress his dates and he tries too hard. Things go wrong on each or his dates and he starts to have feelings for his best friend’s wife. How he deals with it, how she deals with it and how his best friend deals with it and it is all handled with reality or the character’s imagination. Let’s look at the mess I’m in.
We have several what I call fantasy sequences where things either go real well for the character or thing get totally out of hand. So there are lots of what I call dream sequences that happen during the show and we hope that everyone enjoys them and gets a kick out of them because everyone is thinking thoughts and wondering what if it happens this way or what if it happens this way type of things happen to you.
His character is a critic of movies. His big alter ego is Humphrey Bogart. We have a character in the show who come out as Humphrey Bogart to give him romantic advice. But of course Humphrey Bogart gives him romantic advice of the 1940’s version. So we have lots of dames and talking tough and acting this way and of course the reality of today or even 1960 and today and the way you handle things in a movie of the 1940’s is a little bit different than you handle things today. And so this is where a lot of the humor comes from. Not only does he have fantasy moments he has the spirit of Humphrey Bogart come out from behind his bar at home and tell him how things should be handled.
Mike: Tell me about the actors that are in this show.
Keith: They are a great bunch of people. Most of them it is the first time I have gotten to work with them. I have just had a blast working with them. They have done everything I have asked and then some with coming up with ideas of their own. Mike Thompson is playing the lead, the Allen Felix character which is basically the alter ego of Woody Allen. The original Broadway play had Woody Allen, Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts. Anybody who is familiar with Woody Allen knows those people and they are probably his repertory group of actors.
They are a great bunch of people to work with. You couldn’t ask for anything more. One actor plays all the dream parts. it’s kind of a running gag through the show that I liked. Everyone he meets is the same woman, but she is slightly different in each role that she plays and so it gives that actress a great opportunity to play different parts. One actress getting to play six different roles in one show. Everybody in the show at one time gets to be involved in his dream or fantasy sequence. So you take the normal character that is running through the play and they go off on a tangent of wild imagination of what would happen now if that happened or this happened and so everybody gets to make fun of their own character and have a wild great time. Then reality always sets in at the end of each of the evenings.
Mike: So tell us more about what you’ve done in the past. What other shows have you worked on?
Keith: I have been with community theater now for 30 years. I go back to almost the time when this play was written, about ten years after it. I started at the end of the 70’s and early 80’s. This is my first time with Laurel Mill Playhouse, but I have done things with Silver Spring Stage. I have just played Mr. Parapuchini in The Mousetrap this past Summer at Silver Spring Stage. I have done multiple parts for Prince George’s Little Theatre Directing, acting, you name it. Greenbelt Arts Center pretty much in that general area.
I think I’ve got it in my bio that if you have seen any show from Prince George’s Little Theatre Greenbelt Arts Center or Silver Spring Stage, you’ve seen my name somewhere. I’ve been acting on stage, but I really enjoy directing shows. For about twenty years I have been directing, acting. I’ve been working on sets for all the groups for thirty years. In fact this weekend I will be helping out with the other group I’m with get their production set up at the Bowie Playhouse. I’m always running around helping somebody out, working on my show and asking my friends to come over and help me out on my show.
Mike: Are you a theater person by day or do you have another job?
Keith: Theater person by night only I wish. If I could make a living at this I would have been a long time ago. I am having too much fun working with people who are in the same boat as I am who have regular 9 to 5 who do this on the evenings and weekends for the fun of it.
Mike: Tell us how we can get tickets for Play it Again, Sam?
Keith: The Laurel Mill Playhouse you can check the website laurelmillplayhouse.com and call for reservations. It is a small theater it fits about 50 to 60 people so I would call ahead for reservations. The phone number is 301-617-9906 and follow the menu on the machine and pick the date. We open October 2 and we run that Friday and Saturday and then the following weekend we have a Friday, Saturday and Sunday matinee and then the following weekend is a Friday, Saturday and Sunday matinee. We run until October 18. The final performance is actually a Sunday matinee. So everyone check out your calendars now and check out for the next three weekends here in October. Play It Again, Sam will be at the Laurel Mill Playhouse.
Mike: Ok, well thank you very much for talking with me.
Keith: Well, thank you for having the time for me. I do appreciate it.
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Laura & Mike Clark 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.