Are you ready for some big laughs?
This Thursday and Friday, March 7 and 8, Detroit Lakes' own community theater group, Summit Productions, will present two lively performances of Woody Allen's classic comedy, "Play It Again, Sam," at the Historic Holmes Theatre.
Presented as part of the theater's BTD Community Connections series, "Play It Again, Sam," is directed by Caitlin Pawlowski and produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc., of New York City.
Both shows are set to start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7.50 for students, and can be purchased online at www.dlccc.org, by calling 218-844-7469, or by visiting the Holmes Theatre Box Office at 806 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes.
Though Pawlowski was a co-director for last year's production of "Holmes Spun Theatre 2," this is her first solo outing at the helm of a Summit Productions play -- and it just so happens that this particular comedy was a familiar one for her.
"The really cool thing about this play is that it was the first show I saw back at my high school, and it inspired me to get involved in theater there," she says.
"It's pure comedy, and it's been a lot of fun (to direct). I've been lucky to get a great cast of actors who get along really well.
"Things have been going well, and we're still ahead of schedule (with preparations), which is great," Pawlowski continued. "There have been a few little hiccups, but nothing we couldn't overcome. Rehearsals have been going smoothly. This cast is flexible and willing to work hard. Every challenge I've presented them with they've achieved in the time frame I set. They even memorized their lines on time."
And with Woody Allen as the playwright, those lines have been filled with plenty of humor.
"There are a lot of great one-liners," Pawlowski said. "That's been fun to play with, to make sure they get the right response from the audience. And the characters themselves are really fun too."
There are 12 roles in the play, portrayed by 11 actors -- Katie Sandberg has dual roles, Pawlowski noted -- and each character has its own unique quirks, which she's enjoyed watching the cast bring to life over the past couple of months, Pawlowski added.
Rick Kratzke, who portrays one of the quirkiest of them all, Allan Felix -- the part originally written for Woody Allen himself -- says that he has never seen the original movie version of the play.
"I still haven't seen the movie," he says. "I didn't want to spoil this play by seeing how they'd done it."
Though he did watch a documentary on Woody Allen "to see where he was coming from" when he wrote the play, Kratzke said he deliberately avoided watching Allen portray Felix.
"Woody was in his 30s when he wrote this, and most of the cast in the movie were in their 20s and 30s," Kratzke said. "Our cast is a little older than that. I think that's actually going to add a lot to some of the humor. It adds a dimension to this play that you just couldn't get if you tried to do it the way Woody Allen did.
"I think it's going to be a lot of fun," Kratzke added. "Allan Felix, he's just not...socially adjusted. He was married for two years, but that's ended, and he's trying to process that breakup along with getting back into the dating scene. He's out of practice -- in fact, I'd say he was never really in practice."
In short, Felix is a bit of a social misfit -- albeit one who idolizes the actor Humphrey Bogart, known for being something of a 'ladies' man.'
"In his mind, Bogey comes and gives him some advice on how to interact with women," Kratze said. "He tries, he really tries, but he's not quite as smooth as Bogart."
Indeed, one of the women with whom his friends try to "set him up" is decidedly less than impressed.
"I play Sharon Lake, Allan's blind date," says D. Mae Ceryes. "She's a friend of Dick and Linda (Christie, played by Bob Heimark and Kratzke's own wife, Tanzy), and they set her up with their other friend Allan.
"I would just have to guess there wouldn't be a second date," Ceryes added with a laugh. "I would say she's not overly impressed with him."
"I can relate to a lot of situations he (Felix) gets into," Kratzke said, "and I think a lot of guys will relate to him being not quite so smooth, and awkward around women.
"It's been interesting pulling on some of those memories, from before I was married," Kratzke added. "It makes me glad I'm not single anymore. Although I'd like to think I was a little smoother than that."
While Kratzke avoided watching his character's alter ego, Woody Allen, before tackling the role, Jim Sinclair took the opposite approach to portraying an imaginary Humphrey Bogart.
"I watched all the old Humphrey Bogart movies over the past couple of months," Sinclair said. "That's been fun, but also kind of daunting. I can't really imitate Bogart. I can come close, but as my wife says, to really imitate that voice I'd have had to be a smoker for 30 years.
"I tried to get some of the inflections down, and of course, the costume was important -- the trench coat and the fedora."
One of the more fun aspects of the production, Sinclair says, is the number of references to Bogart's old movies that appear in the script -- even the title of the play is a not-so-subtle reference to Bogey's most famous role, in the movie "Casablanca."
"There are a lot of partial references, or disguised references," Sinclair said. "People who come see this show can try to see how many different movie references they can pick out (in the script)."
In fact, he said, that's part of the fun.
"This is a fun, fun play --very humorous," Sinclair added. "If you're not ready to laugh, then you probably shouldn't come."
'Play It Again, Sam' cast
Allan Felix: Rick Kratzke
Humphrey Bogart, aka "Bogey": Jim Sinclair
Dick Christie: Bob Heimark
Linda Christie: Tanzy Kratzke
Nancy: Nona Willet
Sharon: Judy Dey
Sharon Lake: D. Mae Ceryes
Gina: Carmen Gross
Vanessa/Barbara: Katie Sandberg
Go-Go Girl: Viva Klundt
Intellectual Girl: Tammie Jenson.