Director – Harry Parker
Stage Manager – Megan Beddingfield
Lighting Designer – John Leach
Set Designer – Clare Floyd DeVries
Costume Designer – Sarah Tonemah
Sound Designer – David H.M. Lambert
Prop Designer – Kyle Montgomery
Assistant to the Director – Chris Rothbauer
Dialect Consultant – Krista Scott
Louis Shaw – Jerry Downey
Curt Logan – Bob Hess
Mike Policzek – Ben Phillips
Jerry Przpezniak – Curtis Raymond Shideler
Arlene Wyniarski – Meg Shideler
Beatrice Pomeroy – Wendy Welch
Reviewed Performance 6/18/2016
Reviewed by Laurie Lynn Lindemeier, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
How many people can say that they were once a question on Jeopardy? Tom Dudzick can! He’s the playwright for Circle Theatre’s “Don’t Talk to the Actors.” There’s no question in my mind that Dudzick’s comedy is a highly entertaining peek behind the curtains at the shenanigans that occur before a play premiers on Broadway.
The actors were on point in the performance this past Saturday evening. The packed house hooted at their every little gag and quip … even much more than I did. Perhaps some people’s funny bones are much more ticklish than mine. Still, I did enjoy visiting this theatrical zoo and viewing the exotic animals that we call the cast and crew of a Broadway production. The behind the scenes’ secrets, the manipulation and the deals that are cut were blatantly paraded for two acts of a deliciously witty play that takes place in the West 40’s of New York City.
Although this comedy is about a play it certainly was not a play within a play. And it was much more than just a comedy. Director Harry Parker did a commendable job guiding his troupe to accurately depict the funny and the stressful moments that occur when fresh meat naiveties come from Buffalo to New York to try to make it in the theatrical jungle.
Touching scenes and treachery were revealed alongside the humor. One such moment happened when Jerry Downey playing the meticulous stage manager Louis Shaw had a moment of recognition when speaking to his partner on his cell. Although his random stubby ponytails and clunky boots gave Downey the bizarre appearance of a prehistoric bird, during his phone conversation with his lover we had a chance to see that he was just a regular guy who wanted his significant other to accept him as he was. Downey’s facial expressions throughout the play were a treat to enjoy. I found myself waiting for the next one to happen like a frog waiting to catch a fly.
Downey’s stage manager role was only one of the many theatrical stereotypes that were played out to the full extent of the law. We also observed the playwright who clings with a death grip to every word of his precious script. Curtis Raymond Shideler played the role of the nervous writer Jerry Przpezniak, who could really use another vowel or two in his name.
Wendy Welch performed the sassy role of Beatrice Pomeroy, the declining diva who inserts an off-color tramp song into a scene whenever possible. Costumer Sarah Tonemah did a particularly lovely job dressing this character in flowy, showy outfits.
Although Bob Hess played an apt T.V. show has-been in the male lead of Curt Logan, I still squirmed a bit in my seat when the overacting lead shouted louder and louder to show greater emotion. He also drew upon gangster characters to create a supposedly edgy approach to his character. To his credit he played a predictable and boring character to a tee which is exactly what I’d expect of a T.V. has-been.
The benevolent stage director was acted by Mike Policzek who just tried to make it all work and seemed pretty obsessed with New York’s high prices in comparison to his hometown of Chicago where he ran his own successful theater.
An unsuspectingly funny role was artfully accomplished by Meg Shideler as the playwright’s naïve and mousy fiancée. As Arlene Wyniarski, Shideler goes through the biggest transformation through the course of the show. Wyniarski has the biggest learning curve, admittedly, and it’s a bit of a stretch that she relives her childhood fantasy about the T.V. star of Cutis Logan who has obviously long since lost his sex appeal. Nonetheless, Wyniarski sits and sews in a corner while making goo-goo eyes at the not-so-sexy Logan. I guess that suspension of disbelief was on sale for this bit—it had to be for this match to be believable.
The barebones rehearsal room was bleakly created by set designer Clare Floyd DeVries with effective views through two windows of the sides of skyscrapers in appropriate perspective. The rehearsal space only lacked the occasional rodent or cockroach. However, the room did have the apropos, basic square wooden table with a cheap, gurgling coffee. The overacting male lead raved about it as if it were a shrine to the theatrical gods. Prop designer Kyle Montgomery receives the kudos for this tiny temple and the myriad of props that were required to make this show a success.
All the costumes by Tonemah were also handled well and tuned in nicely to their respective predictable stage characters: the prissy fiancée wore tame, matching outfits; the nerdy director sported cardigans and crumpled pants and the quirky stage manager stomped about with clunky boots and multiple rubber-banded ponytails that popped out of his head like teeny tiny aliens trying to escape his obsessive-compulsive mind.
There’s nothing obsessive or unobtrusive about Circle Theatre’s comfy little space. Every seat has a great view. In checking ticket prices on various nights, it seems the show is selling quite well—not surprising after witnessing the well-satiated audience’s reaction to Tom Dudzick’s cacophony of acting clichés. Where’s that spike tape?
DON’T TALK TO THE ACTORS
230 W. Fourth St., Ft. Worth, TX 76102
The play runs through July 16th.
Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, and Saturdays at 3:00pm & 8:00pm. Ticket prices are $20-$33. Student/senior discounts available. For info and tix, call 817.877.3040 or go to www.circletheatre.com