Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Rockville Little Theatre Rough Crossing

By • May 17th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Rough Crossing
Rockville Little Theatre
F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, Rockville, MD
Through May 22nd
2:10 with one intermission
$16/$14 Seniors and Students (Half-Price Tickets)
Reviewed May 13th, 2011

Rough Crossing is a play written by Tom Stoppard. It takes place on board a ship as the cast and crew of the new Broadway musical comedy “The Cruise of the Dodo” are finishing the script for the show. Complications abound when an affair is discovered leading to a massive rewrite of the last scene of the show.

RLT’s Rough Crossing was a mishmash of humor surrounded by the drama of wondering who the lovers were and what their attraction to one another was. The ship’s steward Dvornichek (Nick Sampson) continually misunderstood statements made by the passengers. And luckily for him, those misunderstandings allowed him to drink the drinks he was about to deliver to the passengers. Dvornichek also had a funny running gag with misunderstanding various nautical terms. Unfortunately, Dvornichek wasn’t on stage for much of the production.

The rest of the Rough Crossing revolved around the adventures of trying to complete the writing and rehearsals of a new musical comedy, The Cruise of the Dodo. Writers Sandor Turai (Rob Allen) and Alexa Gal (Kristi Kelly) were struggling with the final rehearsals of their play while their composer Adam Adam (Brian J. Polk) pined for the star of the show, Natasha Navratilova (Rachel Ellen Prevail). But the other actor Ivor Fish (Michael J. Fisher) has just declared his love for Natasha. This sounds like a very funny situation, and there is humor at times.

Unfortunately, the ensemble never came together. There was never a leader on stage. It was difficult to separate the problems the actors (Natasha and Ivor) were having with their lines (for The Cruise of the Dodo) from the lines in Rough Crossing. The rapid shifts from rehearsal to questioning the playwrights caused confusion in the audience, as I confirmed while eavesdropping other audience members at the end of the performance.

When the SS Italian Castle passed through a storm, Joe Palamara’s lighting effects and Nick Sampson’s sound effects were very well done. David Levin’s set was functional, although the opening scene was a bit confusing as the two verandas didn’t have a divider between them, allowing no secrets to exist.

Rough Crossing completes RLT’s season with a whimper.

Director’s Note

Welcome on board the SS Italian Castle and RLT’s production of Rough Crossing by Tom Stoppard. Originally written by the Hungarian dramatist Ferenc Molnar, the story was adapted in 1926 by the British writer P. G. Wodehouse entitled The Play’s The Thing, which I directed at SSS a few years ago. Andre Previn wrote three songs for Rough CrossingThis Could Be The One, Where Do We Go From Here, and You Never Heard it From Me. The play made its New York debut with Jean Cocteau Repertory Company in 1987, having originally opened in the West End of London at the Lyttleton Theatre in October 1984.

Before we set sail, let me give you a quick synopsis of what is going to take place. Playwrights Turai, Gai, and their new composer, Adam Adam, have embarked on a ship and are about to surprise their actors, Natasha and Ivor, with the newest song from their almost complete, new musical comedy, The Cruise of the Dodo. But when they overhear Ivor declare his love for Natasha from the cabin next door, Adam becomes devastated. Turai hatches a plan to convince Adam that what he heard was the actors rehearsing a scene from their new play, which Turai stays up all night writing. Throughout all of this they are assisted by the sometimes dimwitted, sometimes brilliant, but always unconventional steward, Dvornichek.

And now a bit of a history lesson about Tom Stoppard. He was born Thomas Straussler in Zlin in the Morovia region of Czechoslovakia. On March 15, 1939, the day the Nazis invaded, the Straussler family fled to Singapore. Before the Japanese invasion of Singapore, the family moved to Australia but Stoppard’s father remained as a British army volunteer. He died in Japanese captivity. In 1945 his mother married British Army Major Kenneth Stoppard, who gave Tom and his brother his name. Martha Stoppard die in 1945. In the early 1990’s, with the fall of communism, Stoppard learned that all four of his grandparents had been Jewish and had died in Terezin, Auschwitz, and other camps, along with three of his mother’s sisters. In 1998, following the deaths of his parents, he went back for the first time to Slim after 60 years. Of all the fcts that I uncovered about Sir Tom, this is something that struck home to me since I am Jewish and lost the majority of my father’s side of the family in Poland during World War II.

But enough of that -– to conclude: Tom Stoppard was knighted by the Queen in 1997 and also receives a CBE in 1978. He has written prolifically and many of our audiences will know some of his well known plays: Arcadia (staged at RLT a few years ago) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Real Inspector Hound, After Magritte, Travesties and Hapgood (part of the 2011-2012 Season at SSS).

In closing, I would be remiss in not thanking the RLT board for entrusting me with my third show for them. I also thank the wonderful cast and production team, all of whom have worked so hard to bring you the play you are about to see.

So sit back now and enjoy the show-but please, please do not get seasick during our Rough Crossing.


  • Sandor Turai: Rob Allen
  • Dvornichek: Nick Sampson
  • Adam Adam: Brian J. Polk
  • Alexa Gat: Kristi Kelly
  • Natasha Navratilova: Rachel Ellen Prevail
  • Ivor Fish: Michael J. Fisher


  • Producer: David Levin
  • Director: Pauline Griller-Mitchell
  • Stage Manager: Diane Pick
  • Assistant Director: Madeleine Smith
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Caroline Duffy
  • Music Director: David Levin
  • Set Design: David Levin
  • Master Carpenter: Eric Henry
  • Construction and Painting Crew: Frank Adler, Becky Batt, Peter Caress, Anne Cary, Paige DeYoung, Tony Dwyer, Alex Henry, David Kaysen, Kristi Kelly, William Kolodrubetz, Fran Levin, Jakub Lizon, James McNamara, Rebecca Meyerson, Kayleigh Natale, Ellen Ryan, Lars Wilcut
  • Properties: Margi Henry
  • Set Dressing: Nancy Eynon Lark
  • Lighting Design: Joe Palamara
  • Lighting Execution: Asma Husna
  • Sound Design: Nick Sampson
  • Sound Execution: Layne Fuller, Mike Taylor
  • Costumes: Pauline Griller-Mitchell, Ginger Ager, Denise Young
  • Hair and Make-up: Lauren-Nicole Gabel
  • Program Design: Annette Kalicki, David Levin
  • Publicity: Ken Kemp
  • Pianist: Joan Eisner
  • Photographer: Dean Evangelista
  • Stage Crew: Barbara Hazelett, Tony Dwyer, Meem Haque, Azmira Mainuddin
  • House Manager: Jean Case
  • Usher Coordinator: Paula Cook
  • Reception and Concessions: Fran Levin

Disclaimer: Rockville Little Theatre provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.

Tagged as: ,

This article can be linked to as:

Comments are closed.