Play It Again, Sam is currently on the stage at Scripps Ranch Theatre under the direction of Eric Poppick. I agree with the director who commented, “Allan Felix’s agonizing, heartbreaking and often hilarious quest for true love is as pertinent in 2007 as it was almost 40 years ago.”
Allan Felix (Larry Cerrito), a shy writer for Film Quarterly, is a disaster with women. His wife, Nancy (Meghan Kaheny), leaves him. His best friend, Dick (Jude Evans) and wife, Linda (Sharla Boggs) set him up with a series of young women, to no avail. Dick, a workaholic, appears to be as much a disaster in business as Allan is with women. Linda devotes her time to helping Allan. They become quite close.
Play It Again, Sam, like most of Woody Allen’s work, appears to be autobiographical in nature. It is always Allen on Allen. Of course that is what makes his works so funny. At some point, we all can empathize with him. His total lack of self-confidence permeates many of his plays. Allen’s Allan’s mind creates illusions of Bogey and many of the characters in his life, which either reinforce lack of self-confidence or tantalize him with pleasant possibilities.
Humphrey Bogart (Max Macke), Allan Felix’s idol, enters with words of encouragement and salient suggestions. Although, his line, “Dames are simple. I never met one that didn’t understand a slap in the mouth or a slug from a forty-five” would never work for Allan. The Bogey bits are classics in Bogey-esque dialogue. Macke makes a great Bogey.
Evans’ Dick works well. He even has a chance to stretch the character in one of Allan’s illusions. His phone bits are fun. As Linda, Sharla Boggs gives us mixed messages. At moments, she seems the stereotypical fictional dumb blonde with a flat delivery and, true to her character, a loving and concerned friend of Allan. Her bits in Allan’s mind are good. We see all too little of Meghan Kaheny, for once she leaves Allan, we only see her in his imagination.
Then there are the lovely ladies that populate Allan’s dreams and his reality. Karla Francesca is Sharon, Michelle Burkhart plays Sharon Lake, Kelly Wood is Gina and Go-Go Girl, and Lynsey Harris portrays Vanessa and Intellectual Girl. In the end, though, it is Francesca returning as a sweet-faced movie buff named Barbara.
Set Designer Leah Cox created a perfect eclectic mix for Allan’s apartment. On Props, Julie Riklin loaded the set. Ria Carey’s costumes work well for the characters. Karen Filijan’s lighting design captured the essential difference between reality and the tricks played by Allan’s mind. Sound Designer Jim Caputo gave us a nostalgic track.
Play it Again Sam has some moments in Woody Allen’s snappy dialog. Occasionally the timing seems a bit off. Cerrito’s decision to do a Woody Allen voice was a bit bothersome, his body language spoke convincingly. This production brings back fond memories of the original play and film. For that alone, I recommend the play. For those of you that are decades younger than I, the story of a nerd-like guy will certainly remind you of some of the troubles a friend may have had in the trauma known as dating. While flawed, this production of Play it Again Sam brings back fond memories.
Larry Cerrito, Max Macke, Jude Evans, Sharla Boggs, Meghan Kaheny, Karla Francesca, Michelle Burkhart , Lynsey Harris, Kelly Wood, Rachel Wohlander
AD/SM Chad Oakley
Lighting Designer Karen Filijan
Sound Designer Jim Caputo
Props Julie Riklin
Set Designer Leah Cox
Costume Designer Ria Carey
Techs Sharon Bostkovich & Steve Rogers
Total Rating: Two Stars
Author: Woody Allen
Director: Eric Poppick
Date Reviewed: September 9, 2007
Running Time: 101 minutes with a 15-minute intermission
Dates: Friday thru Sunday, September 7 to October 6, 2007
Scripps Ranch Theatre – Independent
San Diego, California
Box Office Phone: 858 578-7728