Another funny memory was the madcap scene in the third vignette of Plaza Suite (2008), "Visitor from Forest Hills," where John Simpson as Roy Hubley was frantically trying to coax our daughter Mimsey, played by Lara Bowen, out of the locked bathroom on her wedding day. In a final attempt to get into the room, he climbs out our bedroom window in the pouring rain to walk along the outside ledge of the hotel to her bathroom window. A series of slapstick antics follow, bringing the house down in hysterical laughter.
From Claire Parrella Curran:
The Miracle Worker (1994), the story of blind Heller Keller, was my first show in the loving arms of Playcrafters. Portraying Helen Keller's teacher, Annie Sullivan, and meeting everyone in Playcrafters began a dynamic adventure. As Helen Keller states: "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."
Thank you dear ones in Playcrafters for your generous friendship, excellence, attention to detail, and commitment to theater all these years. You remain forever in my heart. It is fun "defying gravity" with you.
From Flo Federman:
Bus Stop (2000). What a special show. It was Playcrafters’ 40th year and to commemorate, for the first time they put on a show they’d done previously. Bus Stop was first performed by Playcrafters in their first year, 1960. That show introduced me to my forever friend, Jim Parise, who directed. Least favorite moment was having to stand on a rickety table in a skimpy costume and sing. (Luckily, she wasn’t supposed to be a good singer.) But I just loved working with Claire Parrella-Curran, George Loizides, Amelia Chiaramonte, Rich Giannotti, Joe Skelly, and Matt Palace. And I got to kiss Anthony Griffin!
The Nerd (2007) was my first show back after having my kids. So much fun – you can’t beat spending a whole scene with a paper bag on your head. Got to work with George Loizides again. Got to witness the crazed talent of James Schultz. And got to kiss Jason Glass!
Plaza Suite (2008). What I remember most about that show was how funny Amelia Chiaramonte and John Simpson were in their scene. And for mine… I got to kiss Matt Palace!
From John Hannon:
I remember fondly working as Stage Manager on Bus Stop (2000) with Director Jim Parise. One memory that stands out was when my brother, Brian Hannon, painted our backdrop. Brian very quietly stepped on stage with some paint, brushes, and a piece of a 2 by 4. Jim asked what Brian was “up to” and I merely said “wait.” Brian began to outline the scene using only the paint brush and the 2 by 4. Suddenly, a snowy view of the store fronts began to emerge from the blank canvas. Jim and I sat there in awe.
We performed The Guys (2009) as a “Reader’s Theatre” style show because we felt the story and dialog was so important. The show involved “Nick,” a fire captain seeking the assistance of a writer to help him prepare a eulogy of fallen comrades during the fall of the twin towers on 9/11. The show started at 8 pm. It was a “one act” without an intermission. After the last performance, a friend came over to share her thoughts and her amazement with this show. She asked how we were able to end the show at precisely 9:11 pm. And that happened at each performance. It was never planned.
From George Loizides:
Bus Stop (2000) was a terrific production. So much fun to be on stage with the A-team led by Jim Parise. Cheaters (2003) was fun to a point. The point being my last leap over the couch. I still have back issues. I still feel bad about not finishing the run. Private Lives (2006) was an absolute joy to direct. Working with Claire Parrella Curran and Jim was wonderful. Newcomers Amanda Cohen and Jason Glass rounded out the foursome nicely. The Nerd (2007), directed by Bob Kaplan, was so much fun because Bob and I have the same sense of humor. We were always looking for a way to get a laugh. Working with Flo Federman is always fun. High school student James Schultz was a riot.
From Peter Morrison:
I think most of all I enjoyed being part of the two Noel Coward plays: Private Lives (2004) and Blithe Spirit (2010). For Private Lives, I coached the principles for their British accents. As Jim Parise later, jokingly, complained, I didn't let the cast get away with any Americanisms. This was why, when Jim directed How the Other Half Loves (2014), he didn't bother with accents.
Blithe Spirit was mostly fun. I insisted on British accents because the dialogue was so...British. It was loaded with English expressions, such as "what the devil..." Angela Becker, who already had a British accent, made, I think, a superb Madam Arcati. I'm sure we all miss her; she was a gifted actress, who threw her entire being into her roles.
Another great experience for me was playing "Tiki" in The Nerd (2007). That hapless character had some of the funniest lines and situations in Playcrafters history. It was gratifying to hear the laughter and to be told that some members of the audience were "doubled over" with laughter.
From Jim Parise:
Pygmalion (2000). Aside from the challenges of Readers’ Theater, this play (on which My Fair Lady was based and having played Henry Higgins in a full scale production,) was a wonderful memory as I was able to work with the multi-talented Claire Curran. Even confined to the chair and the music stand and reading from a script, Claire is one of the most generous actors who constantly gave me something to play off.
Bus Stop (2000). This show will always remain special to me. It was my first foray into directing adults and I was petrified as I had directed only the students at my school. However, this experience proved nothing difficult. I was blessed with a phenomenal cast. Anthony Griffin (who came in at the last minute), Flo Federman, Amelia Chiaramonte, Claire Curran, George Loizides, Joe Skelly and Rich Gianotti made my job so easy. They learned lines and blocking so quickly that toward the end I had to slow them down before they peaked too early. Matt Palace’s set was outstanding. Des Burke’s music a perfect accompaniment to the production. When I blocked the curtain call in a lighthearted way, Amelia thought I should re-think that choice and she was 100% right. Dennis Conroy's snowstorm, which literally became a character in the show, and Brian Hannon’s street scene he painted with sponges during one rehearsal was amazing to watch. And the bacon frying, coffee brewing and eggs in the frying pan, all made for a complete production. One last thing of note was Mike Danisi’s video on “The making of Bus Stop,” which was a treasure.
Summer and Smoke (2002). Another readers’ theatre production with Claire. Can’t add more to what I already said about her. Doing the Claire-Parella-Curran before making an entrance is a custom I still do before I make my first entrance and I evoke Claire’s spirit and energy which focuses me. Thank you, Claire.
Lend Me a Tenor (2002). If Bus Stop was atop my list of favorites as director, Henry Saunders in Tenor is on my all time favorite lists of roles to play. I had not auditioned for the show due of my mom’s failing health. But Jane Maushay asked me to come in to a make-shift audition for Annmarie Fabricatore. This was so special to me. Anthony Griffin was a former student of mine and we vowed that one day we would do a show together. This was it. Talk about giving actors, what a special treat it was to work with him. And Annmarie allowed us to take our bows together (in reality, Anthony should have had the final bow). My mom passed away dress rehearsal week. I came to rehearsal the day after she died. People asked why I came in. The answer was simple - Playcrafters had become my second family and they were my emotional safety net. There are no words to thank them for that.
Cheaters (2003) took almost 2 years to bring to the stage. The Board had been reluctant to approve a little known show with 7 major scene changes. John Hannon had pushed for this to be approved. The stage crew had huge jobs changing the set, so much so that Katie Loizides suggested they get their own curtain call. She was 100% right. We lost one of the male leads and for two weeks no one had come forward. I think it was Kathy Loizides who suggested I take the role. Apologies to the cast for not having been there full time in either capacity. Never will I direct and act in the same show. The most significant memory of this show was that it was the first show to sell out every night, but as luck would have it, “Geroge” Loizides hurt his back and the last weekend had to be cancelled. No one wanted to do the show without him.
Private Lives (2004). Another major challenge for me. Not only were the massive amount of lines difficult to remember, but George Loizides, as director, wanted them to be delivered at break-neck speed. Thank God for Claire Curran as we rehearsed on the phone - me in Florida and she, in NY. She kept me on track covering missed or jumped lines. I will apologize to her again for having slapped her so hard that I loosened her tooth. It was during this show that I became sick and didn’t know it would take me away from the stage for almost 10 years.