Imagine Oscar and Felix from “The Odd Couple” coaching a Little League baseball team and you might get an idea of the banter in Mile Square Theatre’s (MST) new two-man play “Rounding Third.”
Written by well-known playwright and former Little League coach Richard Dresser, the play appeared in Chicago and off-Broadway before opening last weekend in MST’s theater space at Monroe Center for the Arts, 720 Monroe St. in Hoboken.
With quick-witted humor and back-and-forth comedic chatter, the play is well worth the $25 ($15 for students and seniors), and gives theater-goers an insider’s look into the world of Little League baseball.
“You’ll leave the theater smiling.” – Marc Weitz
Although director Marc Weitz said the play is all about American’s favorite pastime, “The play isn’t only about baseball,” he said. “It’s about defining success and what it means to be a good parent.”
The two coaches initially butt heads, fighting verbally and physically for much of the play, but they eventually realize they have much more in common than first thought.
“It’s a really relevant play and really funny,” Weitz said. “You’ll leave the theater smiling and feeling good.”
The longtime MST director said he jumped at the chance to direct a play about baseball written by well-known writer Richard Dresser.
“Theater and baseball are my two passions,” Weitz said. “And Dresser is a great playwright. He wrestled with a lot of the same issues [while coaching].”
Originally from the Boston area, Dresser wrote numerous plays that have opened all over the country and in Europe. He currently teaches theater at Rutgers. For more information about the play, visit MST’s website: www.milesquaretheatre.org.
The play features two actors from Hudson County: Red Sox fan Matthew Lawler, originally from Boston and now living in Hoboken, and Yankee fan Liam Joynt of Jersey City. The pair had only three weeks to put the play together, although one scene was performed at MST’s annual benefit “Seventh Inning Stretch.”
“Time is always an enemy of theater,” Weitz said. “But this was an unusual process because we did one scene for the fundraiser. Either way, with three weeks, there are a lot of lines to learn.”
Two previews, which the theater held before the play opened, were a huge help, the actors said. “The previews helped us find that energy on stage and get our rhythms together,” Joynt said.
Lawler said that the play is an accurate depiction of a sports experience. “I’m a huge sports fan,” Lawler said. “The play captures the intensity of people who follow the game of baseball. Both characters have the kid’s interest in mind. It’s just two different ways of giving the kids a fulfilling experience and what that exactly means.”
Although the actors said learning the lines was the hardest part of being in the play, Joynt had another answer. “Working with a Red Sox fan,” he said.
When and where
“Rounding Third” opened last weekend and runs through April 25 at MST theater space on the second floor of the Monroe Center for the Arts, 720 Monroe St. in Hoboken. Running Thursday through Sunday, the play starts at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $25, $15 for students and seniors. Free parking is available.
Sean Allocca can be reached at email@example.com