If you are not sure whether you are sold on a production of The Studio players, wait five minutes. Something totally different is going to happen.
The community theater organization that thrives on energy but loves the nostalgia for dessert offers both Harvey Fierstein‘s “Torch Song” (September 10-26) and Daniel Simon‘s “Barefoot in the Park” (March 18-April 10) in its next season. Among these two, there are:
- “Nuts” (from November 5 to 21), Tom topor hearing drama of a call girl who fights her parents’ request to declare her mentally unfit and spare her the accusation she faces. Barbra Streisand created the character in a film adaptation of the play in 1987.
- “Slow Food” (January 14-30), a new play by Wendy MacLeod about a couple whose anniversary dinner has holes drilled by an intrusive waiter who wants to micromanage their experience.
- “All New People” (June 3-19), a comedy by Zach braff about a man whose suicide plans are continually interrupted by strangers who could easily have led him to the brink themselves.
This is the kind of polar swing that is the core business of the Studio Players, explains Scott Lilly, artistic director.
“I would say we want to do serious and groundbreaking plays. On the other hand, we’re always going to have our wacky moments,” he said. “We did it last spring. We did ‘On Golden Pond,’ a family drama, and followed it with ‘One Slight Hitch,’ which is the kind of visual comedy that slams doors. ‘”
This season isn’t going to change so quickly, however. “Torch Song” makes three subway stops in the dramatic life of Arnold Beckoff, a homosexual in search of love, family, and the respect of his acerbic mother. This is not the full version, “Torch Song Trilogy”, that Fierstein sent to Broadway, but a two hour edition more in keeping with the film.
It is followed by “Nuts,” a high-intensity audience drama compared to “Witness for the Prosecution” in its layers of revelation about the violent and vulnerable life of Claudia Draper. There are actually some fun moments in “Nuts,” but audiences won’t have a belly laugh until “Slow Food,” which is about both character study and comedy.
“Slow Food” (2019) is a relatively new play and is one of the Studio Players’ few callbacks for a playwright; McCleod wrote “Things being what they are,” his offering for the 2016 summer season. It replaces “Lifespan of a Fact,” a play that was tentatively on the lineup.
“Bare feet in the park“launched Neil Simon in the consciousness of America because of his film version starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. It’s a mixture of full-fledged life in a New York walk-up: two extremes of personality in an idealistic marriage, a neighbor who must access his attic through their bathroom window and the lonely mother of the bride subject to her twinning.
“All New People” has been out since 2011, but it’s a stew of current characters. There is a weighted anguish Gen-X central protagonist who thinks he wants to end everything; a real estate saleswoman who believes in divine guidance and the power of a green card; a fire chief who sells drugs at the same time. An escort service lover arrives too, just to complete the chaos.
What’s different about this piece is that it is articulated in short video interludes that give everyone a sort of visual rap sheet. This and “Torch Song” are pieces that Lilly admits he couldn’t do maybe even five years ago.
“We wouldn’t have had the technology. We wouldn’t have had the audience,” he said during the “Torch Song” auditions. “That has changed. Now we have, I think, our followers, our supporters, who come to every show that we do.”
Harriet Howard Heithaus covers the arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News / naplesnews.com. Contact her at 239-213-6091.
Studio Players season 21-22
What: Individual pieces for the 2021-22 Studio Players season
Or: Joan Jenks Auditorium, Golden Gate Community Center, 4701 Golden Gate Parkway, Golden Gate
Tickets: $ 30
Buy: thestudioplayers.org or 239-398-9192