Preview article by Gail M. Burns, July 1999

(This is a preview interview that I did with the director and cast of “Apartment 3A” on July 22. I will be seeing the show on July 31 and reviewing it for “The Transcript”)

The Manic Stage sends out the message loud and clear – the recent closing of the adjacent Zoie’s Restaurant does not effect their production schedule at all. After two sold out staged readings of Eric Rudd’s play “Wet Paint” earlier this month, the Manic is preparing to open its 4th production of its second season, Jeff Daniels’ “Apartment 3A” on July 30. Actor Bruce MacDonald is co-directing with Trova, as well as appearing in the show.

“I chose this play because it is very cleverly written,” said Manic Artistic Director Spencer Trova, who is also directing this production, “So far rehearsals are going well, the cast is working hard, and there’s some nice chemistry happening on stage.”

“Apartment 3A” is an unpublished work written by actor Jeff Daniels. The Manic Stage is presenting it by special arrangement with Daniels’ agent. Best known for his film work in “Pleasantville”, “Dumb and Dumber” and “Terms of Endearment”, Daniels wrote the play for his own Purple Rose Theatre (named after the Woody Allen film “The Purple Rose of Cairo” in which Daniels was featured) located in his home town of Chelsea, Michigan where it premiered in the fall of 1996.

“I liked this play from the first time I read it,” said actor Brian Plouffe who portrays one side of a love triangle in the piece, “It has a nice flow to it. It’s just a joy to read. I fell in love with it and couldn’t decide which of the male roles I liked best.” His colleague Jim Beaudin, another side to the triangle with Alexia Trova forming the hypotenuse, echoes Plouffe’s enthusiasm, referring to the play as “tender and very entertaining.”

“Apartment 3A” does contain scenes with a sexual conotation, so the Manic is warning against bringing very young children to see the show, but want adults to rest assured that this bittersweet romantic comedy handles these scenes in a lightly comic and tasteful manner.

Another new venture for the Manic this summer is a Circus Camp for children offered by company actor Sean Patrick Fagan. The camp will be held at the Manic, and will run Monday through Thursday August 2-5 and 9-12 from 9:30 AM till 4 :30 PM. Fagan spent two years as a clown with Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, staged a one man show for Disney, and did a spin-off of the popular children’s TV show “Gulla Gulla Island” on the cable channel Nickelodeon. Fagan hopes this summer camp will jump-start a year ’round children’s program at the Manic.

Following “Apartment 3A” will be a world premiere of Spencer Trova’s “P.M.S.” “Its about a corrupt televangelist,” Trova explained, “Its a satirical farce, very irreverant and riotous. I hope it will be lots of fun for the audience.”

Trova said that the attendance at the Manic’s summer shows will very likely determine whether North Adams wants live theatre downtown, “We hope we can become broadly accepted and be a part of the new cultural life in this city.”

For tickets and information on Manic Stage productions and the Circus Camp call the box office at 413-662-2323. The Manic Stage is located at 55 Main Street in North Adams. The theatre is air conditioned and ample off-street parking is now available in the rear.

copyright Gail M. Burns, 1999

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