Pictured here from left to right are Townsend Ambrecht, Marta Coppola, Mike Hodges, Ryan Hendrickson and Rochelle Woodson. Photo Credit: Cindy Ording
The Town Players of New Canaan’s winter show will be Billy VanZandt and Jane Milmore’s comedy Love, Sex and the I.R.S., which is a very funny play about the ridiculous complications that arise from a scheme to pay lower income taxes. The show is the perfect vehicle for director Hamden’s Chris Peterson, a charming and talented man, who likes “to entertain audiences and to hear them laugh!” Producer Patrick Kiley of Fairfield suggests, “So much fun for a winter’s night or Sunday afternoon: Escape from preparing your income taxes--or come to laugh for no reason at all!”
Performance dates for Love, Sex and the I.R.S are Friday & Saturday, February 25, 26 and March 4, 5, 11 & 12 at 8 pm with Sunday matinees on February 27 and March 6th at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. The Town Players accepts cash or check, but no credit cards. To reserve seats, call (203) 966-7371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On his website, playwright Billy VanZandt explains how he wrote his first comedy, “I was in Los Angeles as an actor and bored out of my skull as I sat around on the set of the first Star Trek movie. Jane Milmore (my girlfriend at the time) smuggled my Smith-Corona onto the lot and we passed the time in my dressing room between takes writing what eventually became Love, Sex and the I.R.S.”
Seen in this photo are Fredda Takacs and Bob Filipowich on the sofa as Vivian (Jon’s mother) and IRS agent Floyd Spinner, and standing Kevin Mc Nair as Mr. Jansen, Marta Coppola and Townsend Ambrecht as young lovers Jon and Kate. Photo Credit: Cindy Ording
A rollicking farce, Love, Sex and the I.R.S. is filled with hilarious dialogue, fast paced, comic action and sight gags. Jon Trachtman and Leslie Arthur are out of work musicians who room together in New York City. To save money, Jon has been filing their tax returns listing them as married, taking advantage of the spelling of Leslie’s name to make him appear as a her. The day of reckoning comes when I.R.S. agent Floyd Spinner arrives at the door to investigate the "couple." Leslie masquerades as a housewife, aided by Jon's fiancée, Kate. Complicating matters Leslie and Kate have fallen in love behind Jon's back, Jon's mother flies in unexpectedly to meet her son's fiancée, and Leslie's slighted girlfriend Connie shows up demanding to know why Leslie has changed and won't see her anymore. In a light hearted dénouement, all ends well!
Chris Peterson has a cast of eight accomplished comedy actors . Appearing as I.R.S agent Floyd Spinner will be Bob Filipowich of Fairfield, last seen on the Powerhouse stage as the jealous man about town Bobby who dropped red herrings galore in Postmortem. Bob and playwright VanZandt both loved watching “I Love Lucy” throughout their childhoods, and the TV show, they each believe, germinated their comic sensibilities. Also an aficionado of “The Carol Burnett Show” and “My Little Margie,” Bob is trying to tap into those resources to bring out the humanity and comedy of Spinner, who “obviously is not having fun at home and is not a well liked person because an I.R.S. agent is a natural enemy of the people. Thanks to a little bit of alcohol and being part of the musicians’ antics, he releases bottled up aggressions.”
Fredda Takacs of Trumbull never knew she had comic timing until she played Matron Queenie Malone in Broadway Melody Hours at Johnny Ray’s Dinner Theatre in Milford. Audiences laughed uproariously and Fredda discovered, “It’s so wonderful to see people enjoy themselves!” Fredda is realizing how much energy Vivian (Jon’s mother) brings to the play. She creates hysterics and makes things so much worse. Similarly, Leslie’s erstwhile girlfriend Connie “definitely gets to make a flash. At her Act III entrance, she comes in like a battering ram, with machine gun dialogue and is fun to do,” says Rochelle Woodson of Derby, seen recently as Prince Valiant in Snow White and in November’s Stage II.
Making their Town Players’ debuts will be Townsend Ambrecht of New Canaan and Ryan Hendrickson of Stamford, appearing as roommates Jon and Leslie. Townsend grew up in New Canaan, studied acting and directing at Rollins College and is in a conservatory program at the Terry Schreiber Studio in Chelsea. He loves the play’s physicality and energy, and is gaining appreciation of the subtleties and levels comedy performance requires.
A resident of Stamford, Ryan majored in math and physics at MIT and has performed with a handful of community theatres over the past two years. He ruminates, “I don’t think of myself as someone who has comic timing. Comic timing is so subtle, dealing with patterns, the expected and the unexpected, absurdity, and so many subtle things if the audience is open to it.” Timing is something he works on. “Exploring more ways and opportunities can be hit or miss, trying things that are funny.” He loves the comic role of Leslie, saying, “It’s the same guy, whether a man or woman. I just keep the rhythm, and go with the energy and the laughter.”
A busy actor, writer, designer and director, Kevin McNair of Stratford believes that theatre does three things for actors and audiences: teaches a lesson; bewitches one into believing he or she is in the world the play is in; and transforms so that whether on stage or watching, one experiences personal growth and development. Of Mr. Jansen, the beer-bellied drunk of a landlord whom he plays, Kevin says, “His absurdity is lovely. He is the idealization of a person who doesn’t give a damn about anything.” On the other hand, Kevin cares deeply about many contemporary issues. See his blog TrueActing on YouTube. Michael Hodges of New Canaan has studied theatre at both Norwalk Community College and Franciscan University, will play Arnold Grunion, a shady justice of the peace, picked up on the subway by Jon’s mother. Michael first discovered that “comedy is so much fun” when he appeared as Hamlet in a slapstick show entitled The Shakespeare Project.
“Farce,” Marta Coppola of Stamford believes, “sharpens skills. You have to remain present in the moment.” The challenge of comedy, she finds “is how to balance depth and lightness,” and, as Kate, it’s something she has to attempt as she tries to stay in control managing two guys, her boyfriend and his roommate, while all she wants to do is go crazy. Marta’s answer: “Keep it loose and tight.” She loves the pace of Love, Sex and the I.R.S., but more its accessibility, remarking, “You don’t have to be a student of farce. Anyone who walks through the Powerhouse door will laugh at this show.”