But this week, she celebrates a first – her directorial debut for LSPA. Her production of Woody Allen’s comedy “Play It Again, Sam,” opens tonight at the black box theater at 214 Bull St. in LaGrange.
“We’ve been rehearsing this show for six weeks, and I am still laughing throughout it,” she said. “I chalk this up to Woody Allen’s wonderfully witty script and to our incredibly gifted actors. Every night someone discovers something new or tweaks a reaction or a line reading or a facial expression that totally surprises me. I discovered early on that one of the best things I could do was back off and let them play and discover.”
In her job at West Side, she said she works with third- through eighth-graders, making her experience at LSPA a little different.
“Any time I direct a play with my students, I have to commit large chunks of time in teaching the basics about movement and motivation, creating an appealing stage picture, volume and enunciation, etc.,” she said. “Because almost all of my cast here comes to this production with some type of formal theater training, rehearsals move much faster than I am used to at school. The February rehearsal schedule was much different from the January one.”
Cain said the play is a fast-paced comedy that takes place in the New York apartment of writer Allan Felix over a period of a few weeks in the summer of 1971.
“Woody Allen’s stage notes say that Allan is a hyperactive mass of preposterously neurotic contradictions that make the world a little too much for him,” Cain said. “Allan is nervous, shy, insecure and has been in and out of psychotherapy for years.”
The play begins with Allan telling his best friend Dick and Dick’s wife, Linda, that his wife has just left him. From there, Dick and Linda try to find the perfect girl for Allan. Allan ends up looking for love in all the wrong places…including his best friend’s wife. All the while, Allan gets advice in relationships from the spirit of actor Humphrey Bogart, his idol.
“I was very worried about finding the right person to play Allan,” she said. “But when Joshua Williams walked into auditions, I felt better immediately. I had just seen him in LaGrange College’s production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ where he played at least five different characters. I thought if he could do that, then he could play Allan. I laughed all the way through his audition … and laugh every night during rehearsal. He makes a great neurotic.”
Casting the role of Bogey was another challenge, she said.
“Here again, I lucked out,” she said. “Kristen Mansour and I had worked together on ‘Lovers and Other Strangers.’ When I told her that I would be directing, she promised me she would audition. She ended up calling her husband Matthew to audition. That’s how I got my ‘larger-than-life’ Bogart.”
Cain said the actor has nailed the mannerisms and vocal patterns of Bogey.
“And with Matthew standing tall at 6-foot-5, the cast has had a lot of fun playing with some of the lines that reference the real Bogey’s short stature,” she said with a laugh.
A newcomer to the theater comes with some impressive credentials, Cain said.
“Colleen Murphy studied at the Conservatory Theater of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and has also performed with the Auburn University Theater,” Cain said. “She will portray five different characters in the play, four of them within four pages of dialogue. Audiences will be amazed at her quick changes in character and costume.”
Cain said one of the biggest challenges – and joys – for her is working with a technical staff.
“Here, we have this incredible, trained technical staff who know what they are doing and aim to do it well,” she said. “Valerie Longshore, my stage manager, has to occasionally fuss at me and remind me that I don’t have to do everything myself.”
n A review of the play is on page 3.
n Lafayette Theater Company presents Woody Allen’s “Play It Again, Sam” at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the black box theater at 214 Bull St. Tickets at $15 for adults and $12 for students are available at LSPA, Hill Street House and Artists in Residence. Doors will open 45 minutes before the show for dessert and beverages.