The Milton Players bring fun-filled characters to life in their
production of ``Play it Again, Sam,'' Woody Allen’s rollicking romantic comedy
offering laughter aplenty, brilliant dialogue and universal questions about the
quest for happiness.
The setting is 1969 New York City, a time when social skills are important – long before match.com or facebook.com were around to ease the pain. Unfortunately, our anti-hero Allan Felix (Adam Rooks) is socially awkward and insecure. He is a film magazine writer whose romantic ideals are derived from his favorite movie: ``Casablanca.''
After his wife leaves him because he is a ``watcher'' and she is a ``doer,'' Felix is overwhelmed. Enter two married friends who set him up with a series of dates with best intentions. Fortunately for the audience, comedy ensues.
Felix conjures help from his hero, Humphrey Bogart, who appears throughout as a figment of his imagination... chiding, counseling and comforting him. Ultimately and rightly, Bogey’s character Rick in ``Casablanca'' inspires the solution to Felix’s dilemma; while the film, of course, inspires the play.
Awkward situations reign with hilarity, both self-deprecating and whimsical. One important note: Rooks is not a Woody Allen impersonator in his role. Instead, he is a brooding, insecure geek. The crackling-wit dialogue is rendered at a less sharp, less frantic cadence; inventing a Brooklyn accent might have served him well.
But Allen’s requisite lineup of female characters is in colorful array: Sharon Lake (Nichole Duggan), Gina (Andrea Davulis), Vanessa (Erin Thomas), Go-Go Girl (Daniella Colb), Intellectual Girl (Melissa Hanes) and Dream Sharon/Barbara (Sarah Rocca). Lead Linda (Reneé Rossi Donlon) is energetic and sincere, with plenty of New York know-how, as she conspires with her husband to arrange liaisons for their lovelorn friend.
The Milton Players continues to deliver excellent works to the community, providing perfect opportunities for young actors to sink their teeth into major roles. It is vital when you consider budget-strapped schools cutting funds for fine arts programs.
This is a nice night of theater: tickets are reasonable, $15-$20; staff is neighborly; most seats have excellent views and many shows feature cabaret-style wine service.
PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM – Milton Players, Milton Woman’s Club, 90 Reedsdale Road, Milton. 8 p.m. May 2-3; 2 p.m. May 4. $15-$20, 1-617-698-7469, www.miltonplayers.org.