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Spotlight on ‘It’s Only a Play’ directors and crew


It’s Only a Play is on stage now through August 26 at Lab Theater. Co-directed by Lucy Sundby and Scott Carpenter, the production stars Scott Carpenter, Danielle Channell, Aricka Shuck, Dave Chesebro, John David Strealy, Todd Lyman and Cameron Rogers.

Sundby is making her directorial debut … although she humbly demurs that she is merely co-directing with Scott Carpenter. It makes no difference. It’s always good when smart, passionate creative types like Sundby expand and extend their skill sets by doing something new and out of their comfort zone.

In case you’re not familiar with Sundby’s body of work, she wowed Lab Theater audiences with stellar performances as Lenny McGrath in Crimes of the Heart and Nicky in The Smell of the Kill. Her other theatrical credits include Cabaret, The Altruists, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play, Picasso at The Lapine Agile, Mame, Nunsense, Steel Magnolias and numerous productions for The Naples Players at The Sugden Theatre, where she also performed with Stage 2 Improv for 16 years.

“Theater people! Am I right?” Sundby coaxes. “This quick-witted and hilarious show was fabulously cast and a joy to direct! It’s terribly enjoyable and will have you laughing till you cry!”

The play is billed as an peek behind the curtain that provides an inside look at Broadway. No doubt! The play is a laugh riot for anyone possessing even a cursory connection to the topsy-turvy world of live theater. But it isn’t necessary to have any familiarity with theater or its various denizens to enjoy this fast-paced foray.

We’ve all grown up craving the approval and picking up the pieces following withering criticisms leveled by parents, siblings, teachers, peers, employers and co-workers. So it’s easy to identify with the anxiety being experienced by producer Julia Budder (Danielle Channelle), director Sir Frank Finger (John Daniel Strealy), playwright Peter Austin (Dave Chesebro) and actors Virginia Noyes (Aricka Shuck) and James Wicker (Scott Carpenter) as they wait for a play’s opening night reviews. And we’ve all encountered folks with inflated egos, suffocating insecurity, rampant narcissism and addictive personalities. In fact, some of us may even possess one or more of these traits ourselves.

Be that as it may, part of the fun in watching the action unfold inheres in the unapologetic namedropping that occurs from start to finish compliments of playwright Terrence McNally’s sprightly script. Hell, celebs such as Oprah, Josh Groban, Ellen Degeneres and Ryan Seacrest are mentioned within minutes of the opening scene, which has Kelly Ripa heading for the emergency room after being bitten in the face by Julia Budder’s dog, who can be heard snarling on the other side of her master bathroom door.

Scott Carpenter does dual duty as both the show’s co-director and the snarky two-faced James Wicker. Carpenter has a B.A. in Theater from the William Paterson University and is a member of SAG/AFTA. Scott has directed numerous productions, including Same Time, Next Year, Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical, South Pacific, Mame, and Steel Magnolias. His recent acting credits include 33 Variations (for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance), William Russell’s campaign manager, Dick Jensen, in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Art and Cabaret (all for Lab Theater). Other roles include George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross.

Scott also had a hand in the sound design for the show, with the ineffable Rosie DeLeon handling lighting design and tech. An immense and well-deserved shout-out also goes to Stage Manager Sage Meyers and Production Manager Terry Tincher, as well as set designers and builders Michael Eyth, Abe Hernandez, Eren Sisk and Cameron Rogers. The latter truly conjured the opulence and elegance one would expect to find in a multi-million-dollar Manhattan townhouse.

It’s Only a Play appeals for myriad reasons. But don’t rely on anything a reviewer or theater critic tells you! Go see the play and make up your own mind. (lol)

August 5, 2018.


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