STONY POINT — It appears that there is a love affair going on between Penguin Rep and playwright Tom Dudzick. Penguin’s latest offering, “Don’t Talk to the Actors,” makes the fourth Dudzick comedy that producer Joseph Brancato has brought to his stage.
“Don’t Talk to the Actors” revolves around a group of artists working on a new play destined for Broadway. Playwright Jerry Przprezniak (David Arkema) is a wide-eyed innocent who is thrown into a world of difficult actors with agendas and foibles.
Even though the Director, Mike Policzek, (Wilbur Edwin Henry) advises Jerry not to talk to the actors, Jerry’s promising career, the legendary stars in his production and the amazing theater world of New York City overwhelm him into ignoring this advice.
Curt Logan (Richard Kline) and Beatrice Pomeroy (Beth Fowler) have their own reasons for appearing in Jerry’s play and both put pressure on him to rewrite their roles. Logan wants his part to be grittier and Pomeroy wants more comedy. Stage Manager Lucinda Shaw (Claire Karpen) does her best to keep the production on track. But it begins to collapse along with Jerry’s relationship with girlfriend Arlene Wyniarski (Alexandra Turshen).
Both Arkema and Turshen provide a convincing contrast to the professionals, such as Turshen’s swooning at meeting her idol Curt Logan coupled with Arkema’s bubbly enthusiasm. Their transition to disillusionment is both affecting and believable.
Henry turns in a solid performance as the veteran director who retains his Midwestern outlook toward New York City pretentiousness. Karpen displays many stage manager traits, such as slavish attention to detail and strict adherence to rules with a crisp British accent.
Kline and Fowler are larger than life in their roles. Fowler hits all the right notes, whether she is breaking into bawdy songs or adding sarcastic lines to the script. Kline’s charming but self-centered portrayal is spot on.
Costume designer Brendan Cooper provides the perfect clothing for each character to reveal his personality, especially Lucinda the Stage Manager. Paul Weimer has designed a complete rehearsal room set, with accurate details such as the velvet curtains that hide the mirrored walls.
Although there are some insider jokes, the comedy is broad-based, with absurd situations and laughable characters. Director Thomas Caruso has brought together a capable cast that achieved its mission; they put a smile on the faces of the audience members as they left the theater.