Melissa Brown plays the title character and Randy McConnach performs multiple roles in Schenectady Civic Players production of “Mrs. Mannerly.” (photo: Tom Killips)
Melissa Brown doesn’t necessarily feel a close connection to Mrs. Mannerly, but she recognizes a good role when she sees one.
Though she is a veteran of the local community theater scene, Brown’s performing gigs have taken a backseat to her other theatrical duties lately, but the opportunity to portray the title character in Jeffrey Hatcher’s 2010 play “Mrs. Mannerly” was too good to pass up.
“As you get older you get a little pickier about the parts you do, but I loved the script and the part so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring and audition,” said Brown, who will share the stage with Randy McConnach in the Schenectady Civic Players production opening Friday. “It’s very well-written, and I like the humor in it. Both the characters are very appealing.”
“Mrs. Mannerly” is a comedy with just two actors sharing the stage. The play is based on Hatcher’s experience in a childhood etiquette class as a 10-year-old. While Brown plays the teacher, Mrs. Mannerly, McConnach plays 10-year-old Jeffrey, as well as seven other characters. Mark Stephens is directing the production.
WHERE: Schenectady Civic Playhouse, 12 S. Church St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Friday, performance times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 9
HOW MUCH: $15
MORE INFO: 382-2081, www.civicplayers.org
“The two main characters go on this wonderful journey together,” said Brown, who has spent a lot of her time recently working as an assistant director under Matt Moross and Duncan Morrison in several SCP productions. “It’s about where they start and where they end up, and it turns out that they’re much more alike than you can imagine.”
Brown was born in Albany, moved to New Hartford, as a young girl and then grew up in Clifton Park. When she’s not acting or directing, she works Monday through Friday at the New York State Cancer Registry. She has been performing or working at SCP for 20 years. Some of her past performances include “The Runner Stumbles,” “Dancing at Lughnasa,” “Tartuffe,” “Macbeth,” “Cyrano,” and a staged reading of “The Goat.”
McConnach, a chemistry professor at Hudson Valley Community College, has previously appeared at the Playhouse in productions of “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “An Ideal Husband,” “Beau Jest,” “Murderers,” “Our Country’s Good,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Enchanted April” and “The Tempest.”
Also opening Friday night at Curtain Call Theatre in Latham is “Ding Dong,” written by French playwright Marc Camoletti and translated into English by Tudor Gates. Camoletti also wrote “Boeing, Boeing,” which Curtain Call produced two years ago with Phil Rice serving as director.
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Road, Latham
WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Friday; peformance times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 23
HOW MUCH: $23
MORE INFO: 877-7529, www.curtaincalltheatre.com
Camoletti wrote in the same set of characters in this play, Bernard, Robert and Jacqueline, but audience members need not be familiar with them or the earlier play to enjoy “Ding Dong.”
“It’s a fun play, a basic French sex farce that I guess I would say is a bit less physical than some farces,” said Rice, who is directing the production. “It’s about hidden identities and extramarital affairs. There’s nothing obscene about the play but it is for adults, at least teenagers and up.”
There is an ensemble cast of six on stage, led by Victor Cahn. A Skidmore College professor, he plays Bernard, a well-to-do businessman who is hosting a small party of friends and associates at his home in Paris.
“He’s a successful businessman but a guy with some criminal connections,” Rice said of Cahn’s character. “I think I can say, without giving too much away, that he has just discovered that his wife is having an affair with another guy that he doesn’t know, and he goes about plotting his revenge.”
Joining Cahn on stage are Katherine Brillat, Chuck Conroy, Tara Burnham, Angela Potrikus and Erin Waterhouse. Brillat plays the housemaid, Marie-Louise.
“She probably has the fewest lines of any of the characters, but she’s very important to the play,” said Rice. “She’s a housemaid with attitude, which is pretty typical in these types of comedy.”
Burnham is Jacqueline, Bernard’s wife, who is having the affair with Robert, played by Conroy. Potrikus is Robert’s wife and Waterhouse plays a Parisian call girl.