The third Royal Palm Players production of the season opens the New Year with Richard Dresser's light comedy "Rounding Third."
The show chronicles the intertwined path of two Little League coaches and their players in the largest RPP production so far this season. One is a win-at-all costs coach while the other would give trophies to every player in the league.
Both score points and are not entirely right in a show that sports quick, pithy lines about contemporary life. Driven by intelligent dialogue, the play shows well how words can create and drive interesting movement during a two-hour run.
The two-man cast stars island favorite Charlie Tyler with Nick Nichols standing in for the injured Neil Kasanofsky, last year's Anna Award winner (RPP's version of the Tony Awards) for Best Newcomer for his role in "Hypnosis."
"Kasanofsky is fantastic," said Michele Strauss, RPP managing artistic director. "It was a coup to be able to get him. But he has a serious back issue and had to drop out. He also dropped out of "Christmas Carol" for Venice Theater, which he's done for 12 years.
Reminiscent of Neil Simon's "Odd Couple," the show is enriched by smart aleck smack and commentary on topics as diverse as crying little-leaguers and adult infidelity, and just about everything in between.
What: 'Rounding Third'
Who: The Royal Palm Players
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 5-7, 2 p.m. Jan. 8
Part of what makes this dramedy work so well, apart from its familiar themes and Cracker Jack dialogue, is the evolution of the characters and their ultimate recognition that each wants something that the other has.
The RPP season so far has been slow in terms of attendance, Strauss said, although those who have attended have lauded productions of the comedy "You've Got Hate Mail" and the one-man biopic "Vincent" on tortured artist Vincent Van Gogh.
" People who have been coming to the shows have been loving what we've been doing," Strauss said. "They said 'Vincent' is the best thing we've ever done and 'You've Got Hate Mail' is one of the funniest comedies we've ever done."
She also added this caveat.
"I directed both so I agree," Strauss said with a laugh.
Strauss said crowds tend to grow as Boca Grande moves into the meat of the season from January through April.
There haven't been an enormous amount of people on the island so far," she said. "And there's been a lot of stuff - parties, weddings, events - that have kept more from attending. But we're still; having a pretty great season and hope more will come to enjoy it starting with 'Rounding Third.' "