Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Good for the Heart

The holiday festivities are over and the reality of a long winter is setting in. Fortunately Troy Trout knows what we need: a lift-our-spirits, warm-our-hearts romantic comedy.

And that’s exactly what the director is serving up with Strollers Theatre’s production of Apartment 3A.

The play centers on Annie, a public-television fundraiser who’s just endured a bad breakup and given up on love as a result. But whether she’s ready for it or not, two men in her life—a neighbor and a coworker—are bent on nursing her back to emotional health.

The Strollers team purposely chose the play to run in the middle of winter. And it may not come as a surprise to learn a fellow Midwesterner—albeit a pretty famous one—wrote the play. Jeff Daniels, the actor of The Purple Rose of Cairo, Dumb & Dumber, Escanaba in da Moonlight and Good Night, and Good Luck fame, wrote the play for his Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, Michigan.

While Daniels sets the play in “a city of some size in the Midwest,” Strollers decided to specify the city as Madison for its production. However, the three lead actors are newcomers to both Strollers and the Bartell Theatre, Trout says. “They’re all first-timers,” he says.

The play fits nicely within Strollers’ preference for producing a wide variety of shows each season. But Apartment 3A is a bit racier than some of the company’s other plays. “It’s a pretty sexy show,” he says, “a little more titillating than what Strollers typically does.”

And the play has plenty else going for it, Trout says. “It has great lines, set-ups and situations, and quirky characters. But it’s really about her journey back to life. I think people will really walk away with a heartwarming story.”

Apartment 3A runs January 8–31 at the Bartell Theatre, 113 E. Mifflin St. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., and Saturdays and 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. 661-9696 x2,

Photo—featuring David Neueser as Elliot, Sarah O’Hara as Annie and Kamal Marayati as Donald—by Colm McCarthy.

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