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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


The Count

Also see John's review of Tall Grass

The Count

The Florida Stage presents the world premiere of the play The Count. Playwright Roger Hedden has had his one-acts produced by theatres including Ensemble Studio Theatre, Naked Angels, and Manhattan Punch Line.  His full length plays Been Taken, Bodies, Rest and Motion, and Sure As You Live have appeared at theatres such as the Lincoln Center.  He adapted Bodies, Rest and Motion for the screen for Fine Line Features, co-wrote the screenplay Sleep With Me for MGM, and wrote and directed the Lions Gate release Hi-Life.

The Count is the story of world renowned photographer Jane Gray, who returns home to Texas from abroad for her parents'  55th wedding anniversary.  She stays with her brother Michael and his lover Monte and learns of her father's new best friend, an Italian Count full of grand stories of questionable truth.  The Count seems to have charmed their father's attention away from his own wife and children, and Michael fears the Count may have his eye on his parents' nest egg.

The phrase "the count" also refers to the counting up of the remaining years that Mr. and Mrs. Grabowski may have left to share with their children.  Michael's motivation seems to be the desire to have his parents' attention to himself, and he is suspicious and resentful of anything, including the Count and his sister, that prevents that.  Because of this, Jane and Michael have a tense sibling relationship that remains unresolved. 

The set design for this production is clean and handsome, and Deborah Hazlett as Jane and Warren Kelly as Michael portray the long suffering tension between sister and brother quite well.  The play has a lot of drinking, and yet, surprisingly, none of the characters seem effected by it.  Also, although the play takes place in Texas,  and the Count has spent considerable time in Italy, no one has an accent.  Kelly as Michael wears his repressed bitterness like a boutonniere.  Hazlett as Jane processes the situation with a quivering emotional indigestion as she attempts to remain an adult.

Though Dan Leonard plays to the vague nature of the character of the Count when on stage, one would hope he'd have found more charm or bluster.  The parents are played nicely by Lois Markle and Richard Henzel, but there is an absence in the script of the establishment of a real repartee between them.  Michael Marotta as Michael's lover Monty is a breath of fresh air.  He is funny and just a touch campy in the face of all around him. 

The familial tension in The Count is palpable, though truly not much really happens. If you are looking for a happy ending all neatly tied together, you may leave unsatisfied, but let us remember that relationships are all works in progress.

The Count will be appearing at Florida Stage through March 2, 2008. The theater is located in Plaza del Mar, at 262 S. Ocean Blvd. in Manalapan. Florida Stage is a professional theater, with extensive programs for young artists, hiring Equity and non-Equity performers from across the United States. Florida Stage is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the League of Resident Theatres, the Florida Professional Theatre Association, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and the National New Play Network.

Performance days/times are normally Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM; and Sundays at 7:00 PM. Tickets and other information may be obtained by calling the box office at (561) 585-3433 or (800) 514-3833, or contacting them online at www.floridastage.org.

Cast
The Count: Dan Leonard*
Jane Gray: Deborah Hazlett*
Lester Grabowski: Richard Henzel*
Michael Grabowski: Warren Kelly*
Connie Grabowski: Lois Markle*
Monty Barclay: Michael Marotta*

Crew
Director: Louis Tyrrell**
Scenic/Lighting Design: Richard Crowell
Sound Design: Matt Kelly
Costume Design: Nelson Fields+
Production Stage Manager: James Danford*

* Designates member of Actors' Equity Association: the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

** Designates member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

+Designates member of the United Scenic Artists.


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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