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Play It Again, Sam

a Comedy
by Woody Allen

COMPANY : Centerstage North Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Art Place - Mountain View
ID# 4488

SHOWING : August 09, 2013 - August 17, 2013



Our homely hero has this thing about Humphrey Bogart. If only he had some of Bogart’s technique! Bogey comes to the rescue, with a fantastic bevy of beauties. His friends try to fix him up with beautiful dates, but he’s so gauche that they always end abysmally even though Bogart is there, urging him on. Fact is, he is more like a friendly dog than a hero, and this is what charms his best friend’s wife to the point that they spend a night together. Now our hero is in a real mess. But in the white light of day homeliness will not be hid, and he is let off the hook. It’s a tough life, making it in the world of beautiful people, when you yourself are homely, but it is grand fun to follow.

“Hilarious…. A cheerful romp. Not only are Mr. Allen’s jokes with their follow ups, asides and twists audaciously brilliant, but he has a great sense of character” ~ N.Y. Times

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No Need to Play It Again; It’s Been Done Right
by playgoer
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Woody Allen’s "Play It Again, Sam" follows the disastrous dating life of divorcing Allan Felix, as aided by his friends Dick and Linda Christie, by an apparition of Humphrey Bogart, and by his active imagination. With the right casting and the right directorial, scenic, and lighting choices, it can make for a very entertaining evening of entertainment. CenterStage North’s production gets it mostly right.

The set, designed by play director Steve Worrall and artistic director Rial Ellsworth, is a knock-out, even if it seems to use components that have appeared in previous CenterStage North productions. It’s assembled seamlessly and decorated pleasingly with movie posters. The furniture is functional and fills the space just enough. Costumes, by Sharon Zinger, focus on styles popular around 1970 and add real zing to the multiple casting needs. Brad Rudy’s lighting scheme manages to give a TV effect at the start and marks transitions to frequent fantasy segments without a great deal of lighting equipment being available. This is a terrific-looking production.

Davin Grindstaff is perfection as Allan Felix, reminding us of Woody Allen with his glasses and his vulnerability, but making the part his own. John Mistretta is taller and handsomer than Bogart, but does a passing imitation of the screen icon and adds just the right comic tone in his scenes. Neil Ramsey and Pamela DeRitis are great as Mr. and Mrs. Christie, and really shine in fantasy sequences where they take on outsized emotions. Alyssa Jackson, appearing in a number of fantasy roles, doesn’t delineate them quite as clearly as the others do, but does a bang-up job of quick costume changes. Courtney Loner and Kylene Compaan, in smaller roles, acquit themselves admirably.

"Play It Again, Sam" has been playing to oversold houses, so it’s clear that the show appeals to season subscribers and to general theatregoers in the area. Slating a slightly sexy comedy like this in summer gives it a bit of the feel of summer stock, aided by the fact that a couple of the actors were in CenterStage North’s previous production. And with actors as good as these, it’s a pleasure to see them in back-to-back shows. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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