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Regional Reviews by Zander Opper

I Ought to Be in Pictures
Ivoryton Playhouse

Also see Fred's reviews of Damn Yankees and The House That Will Not Stand


Mike Boland and Siobhan Fitzgerald
I Ought to Be in Pictures, Neil Simon's wonderful, unexpectedly moving 1980 Broadway play, can currently be seen in a superlative production at the Ivoryton Playhouse. While one immediately thinks of comedy when it comes to Neil Simon, in this play he offers a great deal of pathos as well. Indeed, he accomplishes the seemingly impossible: there are more than a few scenes where one both laughs and cries at the same time. That there is so much heart in this production can also be credited to the splendid direction of R. Bruce Connelly and an ideal cast of three actors, who manage to embody their characters completely. So, enjoy the humor (which is plentiful) when seeing the Ivoryton Playhouse production of I Ought to Be in Pictures, but bring some tissues along, as well.

I should state, however, that, at least at the performance I attended, it took a little bit of time for the audience to warm up to Simon's special brand of rapid-fire one-liners in the opening scenes. By about midway through the first act, though, as the audience became more and more acquainted with the characters and their lives, the jokes began to land the way they should, and there was a lot of laughter in the theatre. Once this play hits its stride, it is simply glorious.

The plot concerns the arrival of Libby (the terrific Siobhan Fitzgerald) into the life of her father, whom she has not seen since he left when she was three years old. On an adept unit set designed by Bill Stark, the play's setting is West Hollywood, and Libby's father Herb (played by the fine Mike Boland) is a screenwriter with apparent show business contacts. As the play begins, Libby announces that she wants to be a movie star and she wants her father, who has been absent through much of her life, to help her accomplish that.

I would hate to give away too much about the structure of this play, for it ultimately goes in directions that one could not begin to predict just based on the opening scenes. I Ought to Be in Pictures is really about the growing relationship between father and daughter and the hurdles they must surmount in order to truly connect. There is one additional character in the play, Herb's on-again, off-again girlfriend Steffy (the superb Jeanie Rapp), who helps provide the bridge that allows Herb and Libby to make that connection.

What's truly remarkable about this show is the line the playwright has his characters walk between laughter and tears. There are many examples where humor turn to heartbreak, and then back again, all within the space of a few lines. In lesser hands, it could become disjointed, but, thanks to the generosity of spirit of the director and his actors, this balance is maintained from beginning to end.

Immediate praise should go to Siobhan Fitzgerald as Libby. She allows her character to blossom slowly throughout, and Libby appears to become a completely different person by the conclusion. It also helps that Fitzgerald is equally adept at cracking jokes as she is at finding the vulnerability that exists just below her character's surface. Equally strong is Mike Boland as Libby's father Herb. He, too, accomplishes a transformation during the show, with a telephone scene near the end that is utterly breathtaking. Completing the trio is Jean Rapp's warm, wonderful Steffy, who proves to be just as important to the play as the central characters of father and daughter.

I Ought to Be in Pictures manages to find both laughter and tears in the relationships of the characters, and shows that second chances are always possible, even under the most extreme of circumstances. By all means, rush to Ivoryton Playhouse's funny, heartwarming I Ought to Be in Pictures, for plays this good and productions this fine deserve to be savored.

I Ought to Be in Pictures continues performances at the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, Connecticut through May 11, 2014. For tickets, visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org or call (860) 767-7318.


Also see the current theatre schedule for Connecticut & Beyond

- Zander Opper



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