The Roswell Community Little Theatre, 1717 S. Union Ave., presents the comedy “Lovers, Wives and Tennis Players” the weekends of Feb. 8-10 and Feb. 15-17, with showings on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 2 p.m.
According to the director, Louise Montague, this is an especially funny, fast-paced comedy from author Richard E. Peck of Albuquerque.
Peck is an author, playwright and retired academic whose writing career blossomed when he left the academic field. After a career as an English professor and university administrator — president at one time of three universities, including the University of New Mexico — he now divides his time among three very satisfying pursuits: restrained meddling in the lives of his children and grandchildren, golfing at a level far below his aspirations and writing.
His 29 published books include several novels and a number of produced plays — 16 of which have enjoyed more than 60 U.S. productions — from New York City to Hawaii.
In 2018 UNM hosted eight of his productions, with three new plays under preparation in Los Alamos, Taos and Santa Fe.
“Lovers, Wives and Tennis Players” is his first play to reach the stage in Roswell and Peck said that he will be at the premiere at RCLT tomorrow.
Asked what the comedy is about, Montague said, “It’s a comedic farce — a very fast-paced, fast moving play. That’s what it makes so hilarious. Peck has written several plays and I have read three of those, but this is my favorite, of course. The funny lines, it’s going to make you cry it’s so funny.”
The lead characters are four males and three females. Jaron Morris plays the architect who is coming to a cottage to remodel it.
“His wife is played by Shelly Forrester and the owner of the cottage is Bob Jergens, played by Josh Carrol,” Montague said. “His wife is played by Vanessa Sanders. One of the players is Chris Samuels and the other is Tricia Heart. She is the show stealer.”
Montague said that she is tickled that Randy Nolan — who is, in reality, a preacher — plays a preacher.
It has been a while since Samuels has been on stage. He had been active since 2013 when he performed “On Golden Pond.”
“I took last season off,” Samuels said. “My son was graduating high school so we focused on that. This came up and I said, ‘I want back on stage.’” Samuels said that he enjoys playing his role. “I have not a lot of lines, but a lot of different movements. Come out, it’s going to be a great, hilarious show.”
Denise Samuels enjoys working under the guidance of Montague as assistant director. “This is the second time I am assisting directing,” she said. “You have to direct twice to be able to become a director. The director has to write a recommendation to the board. She has to approve me. Louise is a good friend. She is the first director I ever worked with when I was on stage. She cast me in my first play, ‘Small Talk’. It was the first play that was performed in this theater. We opened here in 2012.”
Asked what her biggest challenge in this comedy is, Denise Samuels said, “Just the timing is challenging. The fast pace. … Just getting that timing because that’s what is so funny. Everybody gets here to the cottage and nobody really knows what’s going on. Just the audience knows what’s happening, the others are just confused.”
Patti Stacy is in charge of the sound and light. “The new lights are nice because they are LEDs. It’s not quite as hot. We have a new board too, so I am learning how to use it.”
What the audience can’t see are improvements behind the stage. There are two large makeup and changing rooms for female and male actors.
Each member of the cast — on or off stage — brings a lot of enthusiasm, and they treat each other like family.
“Morris had his first performance in the ‘Christmas Story’ where he had the lead,” Montague said. “He drives all the way from Artesia just to be in the play. To me that’s real dedication.
“It is Vanessa’s first time on stage, but her son Jacob has done several plays. She’s a theater mom. He is in college now. He moved away, darn his soul,” Montague said and laughed. “He better come back and be in a play. He always wanted to do sports and I asked him, ‘Why do you want to do sports?’ To me, you rather have to be in a play. I love giving him a hard time.”
According to the director, the play is best suited for teenagers and an adult audience — not so much for little children because of the mature humor. For more information, visit Roswelltheatre.com or call 575-622-1982.
Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.