is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Studio Players' Run For Your Wife: Big Comedy In a Small Theatre

Below is my first installment of an inside peek at 
Studio Players production of Ray Cooney's classic British farce, 
Run For Your Wife, which opens soon at the Carriage House.
In this first post, Director Ross Carter was kind enough to give me his thoughts about the upcoming production. 

Run For Your Wife's Director Ross Carter is proud to be at the helm of his second play at Studio Players.  "I directed Shakespeare in Hollywood in 2007. Many people came up to me after the show and said, 'That's the funniest play I have ever seen!' Some people saw it two or three times. Carriage House is a small theatre, and when it is full of people laughing as hard as they can, there's nothing like it.  Big comedy in a small theatre is one of the most intense pleasures in all of show business."

Both as a director and as a theatergoer, Carter is a man after my own silly heart because his chief interest is comedy. "In a comedy, the relationship between the audience and the players is just about the most honest relationship there is: everybody knows what the audience expects, and everybody knows whether you delivered it. Either they laugh or they don't. You can't say, 'Oh, but it was successful as an artistic statement.' You don't need a theater critic to tell you whether the show was good. If it's funny, it's good. That's what makes it exciting. It takes a lot of nerve to do comedy."

Carter notes that as much as he loves Shakespeare in Hollywood, it is not the funniest play he has ever seen.  "Run For Your Wife is. I saw it in London in its initial run in 1983. I remember laughing so hard I wanted the play to stop because my sides were hurting. I have wanted for years to direct this play and try to make it every bit as funny as the original. As I write this, we are two weeks from opening night, and I have to say that we are on track to meet that goal."

"There are people out there who do not enjoy musicals, or concerts, or who never visit art museums. Some people like sharp avant-garde plays, and some do not. But I never met a person who did not like to laugh. And that is what Run For Your Wife is all about. The laughs start early and never let up. We're not talking about a pleasant show with some comic relief every now and then. We're talking about a cup filled to its brim with laughs."

Carter explains that he likes best about directing show is watching an audience as they enter the theatre and as they leave. "They arrive from different places with different moods, some tired, some stressed, with nothing in common except they are in the same place. When they leave, they are all in a happy mood, laughing and talking with each other, flowing with contentment and carrying it out into the world. You truly feel that you have done something wonderful for your community when you look at the audience after a comedy."

He emphasizes there's more to comedy than just saying funny lines. "There's a great deal of craft. Most people lump all comic technique together under the rubric 'timing,' and timing certainly is important, but there are many aspects to making comedy work. At one of our rehearsals, I showed the cast a video of Abbott and Costello doing 'Who's On First' from early in their career, and another of the same routine from late in their career. The early one was not particularly funny. Because the script was basically the same, we could look at the subtle adjustments they made to turn a dull routine into a world-famous one. That's what I mean by craft."
"The best part about this production has been watching the actors get better with every run. They crack me up. I've read and seen this play time and time again, and I know all the funny bits inside out. But every night I still laugh out loud when the actors come up with a fresh or sharper reading, or introduce a new sight gag. And this is hard work, by the way. Getting a slapstick bit just right can take as much work as a fight scene. Just learning the lines is uncommonly difficult, because plot points and gags fly so fast it's mighty difficult to keep things in the right sequence."

A little more about Ross Carter:  He has appeared with Studio Players in Arsenic and Old Lace (Dr. Einstein) and See How They Run (Mr. Humphries); with Woodford County Theatrical Arts Association in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Senex) and A Christmas Presence (Jacques); with Ragged Edge Theatre in The Sunshine Boys; and with Kentucky Ballet Theatre in numerous productions including The Wizard of Oz (the Wizard), The Nutcracker (Herr Stahlbaum and Mother Ginger), Coppélia (the Burgomaster), and the comic ballet La Fille Mal Gardé (Mr. Thomas). Ross wrote the ballet adaptation for KBT’s production The Witches of Doon.


Studio Players
Run For Your Wife
by Ray Cooney

Directed by Ross Carter

This superb example of British farce had them rolling in the aisles in London and New York. A taxi driver gets away with having two wives in different areas of London because of his irregular working hours. But once an unexpected incident and the ensuing publicity interferes with his intricate ruse, complication is piled upon complication as the cabby tries to keep his double life from exploding.

Production Dates:  May 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30, June 4, 5, 6, 2010

Opening night, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8:00pm

Sunday matinee performances begin at 2:30 pm

The Carriage House Theatre is located at 154 West Bell Court
Ticket Prices: $15 and $10 (students)

For reservations please call (859) 225-0370

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