When several Fort Hays State University students saw the first production of The Movie Game at last year's American College Theatre regional festival, they thought it would be a good production for FHSU Theatre.
It will be the first major production of the spring at FHSU's Felten-Start Theatre, opening its four-night run at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, directed by Dr. Stephen Shapiro, professor of communication.
"For those who love romantic comedies and romantic movies, this play is a winner," said Shapiro. "This play reinforces what we believe deep in our hearts, that yes, the perfect person is out there. And it's only a matter of time."
The playwright, Adam Hummel, wrote The Movie Game while a student at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. His play was selected for the national American College Theatre Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Hummel proclaims himself a movie buff, and his play revolves around movies and movie making.
Jack, played by Chris Peavey, Plainville sophomore, is a jobless, thirtyish nerd living with his parents. He is coming to the conclusion that he needs to find himself. His only social life is his best friend Sam, played by Jill Seib, Hays sophomore, a successful PR executive pondering accepting a promotion that will force her to leave New York and move to the West Coast.
Their friendship is mainly about old movies, the game they play built on those movies, and the abandoned theatre where they hang out.
"Jack," said Peavey, "is just kind of an average, ordinary guy. Perfectly normal. There's nothing out of the ordinary about him."
"I kind of relate to him," he said. "He's a lot like me."
Sam, said Seib, loves old movies and tries to be like the characters in them.
Before Jack can even figure out where to look to find himself, his mother, the overbearing Florence, intervenes.
"Florence is the epitome of Republican motherhood," said Patricia Blocksome, Overland Park junior, who plays Florence, a Midwestern Protestant from Wisconsin who married the Jewish Frank Goldberg and went to New York with him.
Frank is played by Matthew Schwartz, Liberal junior.
"Frank," said Schwartz, "is the only sane character in the whole play. He's the only one who talks sense, but nobody listens."
Florence decides that Jack, who still lives with his parents, is in need of therapy, and she sets him up with the famous Dr. Suez (pronounced SOOZ), analyst to the "stars." Suez, played by Cody Hughes, Leoti junior, settles on a radical therapy. Since Jack loves movies so much, he decrees that Jack must spend a week starring in a movie, complete with love interest, and he will thereby discover his own true self and purpose.
From there, the complications and disasters rapidly mount, from the director Suez selects (Blake Langley, famous for his Piggly Wiggly commercials, played by Casey McAvoy, Offerle sophomore, who doesn't think of this as therapy for Jack but as Blake's ticket to the Oscars), to the "therapy" Dr. Suez prescribes for Francine, Jack's uptight librarian sister, played by Melissa Miller, Hudson freshman.
Jack is aghast at the idea of starring in a movie, but then adds to his own dilemma when he and Sam go to a video store and meet Maggie (played by Hays sophomore Jessica Klein) and her fiancÚ Paul (played by Scott Hand, Ellsworth senior). Jack instantly falls in love with Maggie and, on the spot, unemployed Jack Goldberg, who lives with his parents, turns himself into Harry Jackson, successful architect.
This being a romantic comedy, true love asserts itself in the end, but the fun is in the details.
Dave Krasky, Mulvane senior, is the costume designer; Pete Hardy, Overland Park junior, is sound manager; and Kathryn Affentranger, Moore, OK, junior, is the stage manager.
Tickets for the play are $7 for students and $8 for non-students. The box office telephone number is (785) 628-4225.