Village Players perform with ‘Maggie Smith’ of ToledoWritten by Matt Liasse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Lettice and Lovage” will open Nov. 1 at The Village Players Theatre as the second show of the season — a show director Jeff Albright has wanted to do since seeing it on Broadway in the early 1990s.
“When The Village Players asked me to submit plays to direct this season, it was one of the ones I submitted,” Albright said. “It’s sort of been on my bucket list for plays to direct.”
Albright saw British actress Maggie Smith portray Lettice Douffet in the production; she won the 1990 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her portrayal of the eccentric tour guide. Albright said it was the fragility of the role that spoke to him when he saw it on Broadway.
For The Village Players, the role is filled by Barbara Barkan, who Albright describes as “the Maggie Smith of Toledo.”
“Maggie Smith is an incredible actress, so I enjoyed seeing it for that,” Albright said. “[Barkan] is pretty incredible. It’s a huge role; she’s offstage for maybe five minutes of the play. The rest of it is her onstage so it’s a pretty formidable role.”
Albright said the character is a lot for anyone to take on.
“The role itself is challenging because it’s like running a marathon,” he said. “Emotionally, the character goes through different changes. It’s a pretty intense role although it’s a comedy.”
Albright’s favorite part of the play is the message it conveys. Albright said he usually chooses plays to direct that have messages that are important to him. This is his second time directing a show at The Village Players; he last acted with the theater in 1981.
Other cast members include Cindy Bilby as Lotte Schoen, Samanthia Rousos as Miss Framer, Joe Capucini as Mr. Bardolph and Bill Perry as Surly Man.
The play follows Lettice Douffet, an expert on Elizabethan cuisine and medieval weaponry, as she works as a tour guide at Fustian House in London, according to a news release. Douffet often embellishes history, ultimately leading to her firing by Schoen. The show goes on to show her fight for her job.
The comedy was written by Peter Shaffer, author of “Equus” and “Amadeus.”
Albright said the production calls for three elaborate sets.
“That’s the most challenging aspect for a small theater,” he said.
The production will run Nov. 1-16 at the Village Players Theatre, 2740 Upton Ave. For tickets, call (419) 472-6817 or visit thevillageplayers.org/ticketing.htm.