Podium Players to perform ‘Plaza Suite,’ opening this week

By Podium Players
East Hampton - posted Tue., Feb. 19, 2013
Podium Players will present Neil Simon’s ‘Plaza Suite’ at the Goff House. Pictured: Ed Hobson and Gwen Lawson. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

Podium Players, East Hampton’s community theater group, will soon open its 2013 season with the three-act Neil Simon comedy, “Plaza Suite,” at The Goff House on Barton Hill Road. Shows are scheduled for Friday, Feb. 22, Saturday, Feb. 23, Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at 7:30 p.., and Sunday, March 3, at 2 p.m. The Friday and Saturday shows will be seated cabaret style, BYOB.  Sunday’s seating will be theater style. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.

“Plaza Suite” premiered on Broadway in 1967 and is one of Simon’s earliest and most popular works. In 1970, it was adapted into a feature film, “The Out-of-Towners.”

The play is comprised of three acts and three different plot lines. The only common bond is that all of the activity takes place in Suite 719 at New York City’s Plaza Hotel.

“Plaza Suite” is produced by David Schwartz, but each of the three acts is directed individually by a cast member. Schwartz has been involved in East Hampton theater since 1969, beginning at the newly opened junior high school and then the high school. During that time, he produced and directed more than two dozen Broadway plays. Seeing a need for theater beyond high school, Schwartz joined Podium Players and was instrumental in bringing them to East Hampton. He directed the group’s first two plays. After a 12-year self-imposed hiatus from theater to raise his grandson, Schwartz returned to Podium in 2011 to produce “My Fair Lady.”

Schwartz said that he is involved with his most talented cast ever in “Plaza Suite.”

“This current vehicle allows me to take a ‘laissez faire’ attitude toward directing, by selecting a talented cast member from each act to direct, allowing me to concentrate on other aspects of the production,” Schwartz said. “When I do sit in on a rehearsal, I am amazed at the talent and the progress made by the cast.  It’s an overall pleasure dealing with everyone involved.”

Act I, “Visitor from Mamaroneck,” is directed by Michelle Falco. It centers on the marital travails of Sam and Karen Nash, whose everyday bickering turns serious when Karen suspects that Sam is having an affair with his secretary, played by Falco.

Gwen Lawson, a Podium veteran, portrays Karen Nash. She said, “I love Podium musicals from the audience, but when it comes to singing and dancing, I’m ‘American Idol’ blooper material. So for the past two years, I’ve been patiently waiting and eagerly anticipating my turn for the stage. The part of Karen Nash is just how I wanted to return to the Podium stage. Working closely with the small cast of Act I and with the tried and true Podium crew has made this homecoming sweet and complete.”

“The most challenging aspect of ‘Plaza Suite’ Act I is the volume and emotional nature of the dialog in the script,” explained Ed Hobson (Sam Nash). “It starts slowly with trivial arguing, but builds to an emotional crescendo. Fortunately, Gwen is an amazing actor and teammate. She has a certain vulnerability on stage that is perfect for her part and will endear the audience to her. Gwen, Michelle, Jay Selavka and Tony Falco have made the Act I rehearsal process a joy.”

Act II, “Visitor from Hollywood,” stars Jim Kane, who is also the director, as Jesse Kiplinger, a famous Hollywood producer, and Allison Mohler as Muriel Tate, his high school sweetheart, who is visiting him in New York for an anticipated platonic reunion, but Kiplinger may have ulterior motives. Kane and Mohler are Podium veterans and both appeared in featured roles in Podium’s “Little Shop of Horrors” last October. Kane owns and operates his own theater group in East Haddam, Swing Bridge Arts Alliance. Mohler is an experienced actor and social studies teacher at Norwich Free Academy.

Act III, “Visitor from Forest Hills,” is directed by Christine Hopkins and stars Jim Hetrick (Roy Hubley) and Hopkins (Norma Hubley) on their daughter’s wedding day. Their daughter, Mimsey, suddenly gets cold feet and locks herself in the bathroom. The ensuing action is a hilarious slapstick adventure. Hetrick is a theater veteran and a published playwright. He’s been traveling to New York, where one of his works, “Blessed Event,” will be soon coming to stage. Hopkins is a theater professional with many directing credits. She works at Goodspeed Opera House in the Theater Education Department and is the director of the Nathan Hale Ray High School Drama Club.
“Plaza Suite” will evoke tears, laughter and all emotions in between.

Podium Players is a non-profit theater group based in East Hampton. Its mission is to entertain and educate adults, youth and families in the community through quality theatrical experiences. It has produced a minimum of one show and as many as four shows per year in East Hampton since 1990. It also serves as a platform for original works. It relies on membership, ticket sales and donations to continue offering programming. For more information, visit www.podiumplayers.org.

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