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PPT brings smart comedy to the Meroney with ‘Play it Again, Sam’

By Katie Scarvey
kscarvey@salisburypost.com
It’s July, so it must be time for a Piedmont Players Theatre comedy, as refreshing on a hot day as a big glass of lemonade ó but spiked with a little something extra.
Often, PPT summer comedies are door-slamming farces that hinge on mistaken identity. This one is different.
It is about identity, however ó how we see ourselves, how others see us.
And because it’s by Woody Allen, it’s bound to be funny.
“It better be, or we’re in big trouble,” says director Reid Leonard.
“Play it Again, Sam” opens July 16 at the Meroney Theatre.
The play is Woody Allen’s first Broadway show, and Seth Labovitz plays the Woody Allen role, Allan Felix.
“Seth’s a really good performer,” Leonard says. “He’s very, very good in this.”
Allan is a mild-mannered film critic who is dumped by his wife and trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered ego.
“He’s a basket case,” Leonard says.
His hero persona is the tough guy played by Humphrey Bogart in his many movies (Robert Hackett). Allan conjures up Bogey to help him with his romantic strategies.
His friends Linda and Dick try to help Allan out of his mixery by fixing him up with some of Linda’s model friends.
Part of the humor of the play is that the girls are “totally inappropriate,” for him, Leonard says: they’re too young, too good looking, to tall, too classy.
“The play is a really good way into someone’s psyche,” Leonard says. “We all have this inside monologue going on. Woody Allen found a way to get that inside monologue out on stage.”
Allan is “so totally neurotic” that the play gets funnier and funnier, Leonard says, as he makes “odd choice after odd choice” trying to figure out how to deal with the women in his life.
The roles of his potential girlfriends are interesting, since sometimes the actresses are not playing the real girl but the girl that Allan imagines her to be.
The play is extremely well-written, Leonard says.
“A lot of comedy just goes for the joke, the laugh,” he adds, but in this play there is real complexity.
When Bob Denver took over the Broadway role after Woody Allen left, critics realized that the play was more than just a Woody Allen vehicle, that it was a great play in its own right, Leonard says.
The movie based on the play isn’t particularly well done, Leonard says.
“This is one of those stories that works better on stage,” he adds.
The cast includes Amy Lee, Jonathan Coarsey, Jessica Walker, Amber Adams, Lauren Martz, Maria Corriher, Lynsey Horn, Ivy Overcash, and Kim Hodges.
The show runs July 16-18 and 22-25 at 7:30 p.m. There is a 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinee July 19.
The box office opens to the public the Monday before opening night of each production. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday and two hours before evening performances and one hour before the matinee.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors and $11 for groups of 20 or more.
Tickets for the Wednesday performance are $10.
Producing Partners are Woodleaf Lanes and Wooden Stone.
For more information, call 704-633-5471.

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