The current show at 2nd Story Theatre is "Take Me Out". The three act show is Richard Greenberg' passionate and patriotic look at "The Great American Pastime". It premiered off-Broadway on September 5, 2002, and made its Broadway debut on February 27, 2003 where it ran 355 performances, winning the 2003 Tony Award for Best Play. "Take Me Out" sneaks a peek into that most exclusive of boy's clubs: the locker room of a major league baseball team. When the NY Empires' superstar player, Darren Lemming comes out to the press with a closely held secret, assumptions are challenged, tradition is upended, friendships are tested, and the question of what it is to be an American is explored in a naked and unflinchingly honest way. The play is full of insights about baseball, masculinity and identity in the 21st century. Director Ed Shea gives his 12 performers their moments to shine in their roles in this show as he mixes the dramatic and comic moments together superbly, earning them a spontaneous standing ovation at the close of the show.
The dramatic scenes are electrifying and the play's many laughs are terrific, too. Ed brings out the best in his cast in this well written show. Trevor Eliot designed and built a baseball set as well as six shower heads set behind a scrim with actual running water that is amazing. Max Ponticelli is the operations manager who keeps things running smoothly onstage. Ron Allen designed the intricate lighting. Not wanting to give away too many details of the show, I will mention some of the performers in it. Ara Bohigian delivers a terrific performance as Darren in this show. The macho image projected by this "boys' clubs" is precisely why the team rejects Darren when his true identity is exposed and his whole world collapses around him. His stand out scene is his confrontation with Shane in the shower room which is explosive and stunning to behold. Ara also handles funny moments with his tres gay accountant Mason and utters a comic line about the Hallmark Card of Sodomy.Tim White who I last reviewed in Becky Shaw last year, plays Kippy Sunderstrom, the shortstop for the team and narrator who tries to pinpoint when this whole mess began at a press conference Darren gave. He narrates Darren's trials and tribulations, handling his enormous dialogue with ease. Tim captures the essence of this character, moving from narration to being in the moment perfectly. Toddy played by Patrick Cullen who I directed as Kurt in "The Sound of Music" in 1994. Toddy tells Darren that God will punish him liked he did to Roberto Clemente and Lou Gehrig. Patrick captures the stupidity of this dumb jock with aplomb. Kevin Brocolli steals many a scene as the accountant, Mason. The metaphor for hope in a Democratic society is what baseball becomes for Mason. Mason is a stand in for the author, finally being able to fit into this community due to Darren's revelation. Kevin delivers a multitude of comic gems to a very appreciative audience, helping to lighten the dramatic punch of the third act.
Another standout performer is Jeff Church as Carl Mungitt, a bigoted red-neck. Carl reveals he came from a orphanage due to a murder/suicide and was rejected from one foster home after another. He spouts a hateful tirade about sexuality and racism resulting in his suspension from the team. Jeff and Ara have a stunning moment is Act 2 in a confrontation scene. One of his best moments is his nervous breakdown scene in Act 3 that is gut wrenching and mesmerizing in its intensity which won him a thunderous ovation as he screamed "I just want to throw" over and over again. Bravo. Davey Battle is Darren's best friend on another team. Marlon Carey does a marvelous job as Davey who goes from caring friend to a religious fanatic who rants and raves about Darren going to hell because he is a pervert. Marlon shines in this explosive scene with Ara. Andrew Iacovelli is a hoot as the new catcher, Jason Chenier. He tries to explain that he read a book about ancient Grecians and associates them with homosexuality and then attributes the pyramids to the them by mistake. Andrew has another comic scene when he tries to be friendly with Darren after his revelation. Kyle Blanchete plays Kawabata, the Japanese character who speaks no English but the author lets him reveal how he really feels about his teammates in a speech where he talks about Americans. So for a fantastic look at a contemporary show, be sure to catch "Take Me Out" at 2nd Story Theatre. This show will keep you riveted to your seat with its brilliance.This review is my 1000th review and what a hell of a way to celebrate it.