The opening show of Ocean State Theatre Company's summer season is "Rounding Third", Richard Dresser's touching and hilarious comedy. The comedy is about two different types of baseball coaches. Don is the tough, blue-collar, win-at-all-costs coach whose son is the star pitcher. Michael is a newcomer, corporate-exec who agrees to be Don's assistant to be closer to his son, who's never played baseball before only soccer. Don thinks a coach should be teaching the kids how to win. Michael believes coaches should shield the kids from the intense pressure of competition, while making sure everyone has a good time. Over the course of the exhilarating victories, heartbreaking defeats, and interminable rain-outs, the two men battle over how to lead the team. Director Amiee Turner takes the audience on a roller coaster ride with her two brilliant actors who make you laugh and cry at all the right moments in this well written script which contains many twists and turns that keep the audience entertained all night long.
The show gives us a bird's eye view of two contrasting coaches that enables these two splendid actors to address the audience as their team members. We become an integral part of the show without involving the audience's response to them. Amiee provides strong blocking and direction for her two performers as they sustain high energy to keep the audience intrigued during this two act, 100 minute show. Fred Sullivan Jr. commands the stage as the boisterous, strong willed, Don who wants his team to win at all costs. He becomes upset when his son, Jimmy the star pitcher, bails out on the team to play a role in "Brigadoon", the high school musical. The character of Don is reminiscent of Oscar Madison as he runs roughshod over his assistant coach, berating him for constantly being late, constantly talking to his boss on his cell phone, calling him Mike and Mikey instead of Michael, and having Michael's son, Frankie on the "kid's to avoid" list. Don also makes fun of Michael for coming from Canada and that his boyhood sport was curling. Fred has terrific comic timing and his line delivery is perfect as Don eventually softens up later in the show. Joel Kipper is also masterful as Michael, the more naive assistant coach who has a dramatic secret in his past that is revealed near the end of the first act. Michael wants to form a closer bond with his unathletic, bespecteld son and his philosophy is being on a team should be fun. The resentment between the two men lessens as they learn more about each other. When Michael over hears revealing info during a phone call with Don's wife, Don goes ballistic on him which ends up a physical altercation. Joel displays the transition from naive man into a more aggressive one by the end of the show. The marvelous unit set is by Amanda R. Hall which contains a dugout, chain link fence, half a van and a movable bar set for the first scene. So for a fun filled thought provoking show all audience members can identify with and enjoy, be sure to catch "Rounding Third" at Ocean State Theatre Company. You will witness acting at its best by these two superb actors. Bravo!