Rounding Third

Phoenix Theatre

Directed by Bryan Fonseca

Through May 8

Non-baseball fans needn't fear: Richard Dresser's Rounding Third isn't a play about baseball. Instead, it is an uproariously funny play about two polar opposite men who must work together - that work situation just happens to be coaching their sons' Little League team. Michael Downey and Doug Johnson in 'Rounding Third'

The comedy stems from the interaction of these two characters. Don, played by Doug Johnson, is a stereotypical, blue-collar kinda guy. He's tough, he's masculine - and he's in charge. Michael "don't call me Mike" (Michael Downey) is a touchy-feely kind of guy who wants his less-than-talented son, and the rest of the boys on the team, to just have fun and feel good about themselves. Don finds this philosophy abhorrent - and frightening. Don's idea of having fun means WINNING, while Michael sees the boys as "captains of their own little ships."

Johnson controls his manly man character while still creating an everyman on steroids. He's not a caricature, yet he makes Don's character funny, and relatable. Downey is a complete riot as Michael. His doe-eyed appearance and goofy smile are in synch with his submergence in Michael's New Age approach to parenting and friendship. The transformations that the men undergo are believable, because you have seen them progress ever so slyly.

The show is a complete laugh fest and never gets sappy, but there is a subtle message, so the feel-good types and their macho cohorts can both enjoy the show.

Rounding Third continues through May 8 at the Phoenix Theatre, 749 N. Park Ave., 635-PLAY,

Enchanted April

Theatre on the Square

Directed by Ron Spencer

Through April 23

As a change of pace, Theatre on the Square is presenting the stage version of the classic novel Enchanted April.

Set in 1922, four very different English women rent a castle in Italy for a month. Each has her own issues that she needs to work through, and the wisteria-covered castle works its healing effects on each woman.

The large cast does charming work. Laura Duvall Whitson as Lotty is the slightly ditzy ring leader of the quartet. Angela Plank as Rose is the reserved lady of the bunch with a deep hurt that finally finds healing. Betsy Hamlett as Lady Caroline is the modern woman looking for escape from outer and inner demons. Peg Arbuckle as Mrs. Clayton Graves is the proper matron who learns to loosen up. Lotty and Rose's husbands are capably portrayed by Nick Taylor and Roger Ortman, respectively. Taylor gets a slightly risqué scene that involves the explosion of an ancient bath tub and him in a towel that just won't stay put.

Finishing out the cast is Anthony Wilding as the suave owner of the castle, and Joanne Burleson as the cook who, though she doesn't speak English, gets some of the funniest scenes in the show.

Spencer's set for the Italian castle is lovely.

The show is a worthwhile turn for TOTS, and the word seems to be getting out, as last Saturday had a packed house. Call for reservations.

Enchanted April continues through April 23 at TOTS, 627 Massachusetts Ave., 685-TOTS,


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