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February 24, 2010 > Theatre Preview: The play's the thing at Stage 1

Theatre Preview: The play's the thing at Stage 1

By Julie Grabowski

Stage 1 reveals the off stage drama of theatre with Terrence McNally's "It's Only A Play" running through March 13.

At the opening night party for new Broadway play "The Golden Egg, " celebrities fill the Manhattan townhouse of first time producer Julia Budder while the creative forces of the play hide out in her upstairs bedroom. The director, producer, playwright, playwright's best friend, and the leading lady anxiously await the reviews that will determine their success or failure, as well as potential futures. Joined by a famous critic, aspiring actor coat check boy, and a cab driver, the group argue, hope, worry, reflect and pray amid piling coats, phone calls, news shows, and revelations.

Delivered in the Black Box, Stage 1 has assembled a vibrant and compatible cast who enthusiastically serve up a bubbly cocktail of ego, angst, laughter, and tears. Pamela Rosen is hilarious as the foul-mouthed, drug toting leading lady Virginia Noyes looking to revive her career, and Sandy Sodos's enthusiastic misquoting producer Julia Budder is bright and effervescent; a delicious confection that leaves you smiling. Kevin Hammond is highly entertaining as frustrated kleptomaniac director Frank Finger who desperately wants a flop after 14 hits in a row. But Ben Ortega deftly leads the bunch with his performance as nerve-wracked playwright Peter Austin. Ortega is rock solid and completely engaging, an absolute joy to watch.

The cast thankfully outshines the set they have been provided, which is one of the few off notes of the evening. The set design is dark and dated, as well as appearing unfinished, and fails to adequately reflect what one would imagine a room in the home of a wealthy, bubbly producer to be.

While "It's Only A Play" runs a tad bit long, it is a wild, high-spirited romp that is pure pleasure and entertainment that will not disappoint.

The play contains adult language and themes and is not suitable for children. Tickets are $22 for advance purchase and seniors, $25 general admission at the door, and $12 for high school students. Tickets for a group of 12 or more for the same performance cost $18 apiece. To purchase tickets or for more information call (510) 791-0287 or visit

It's Only A Play
February 19 - March 13
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Newark Memorial High School Theatre
39375 Cedar Blvd., Newark
(510) 791-0287

Tickets: $12-$25

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