This story was corrected on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. An explanation follows the story.
It’s not every day that legendary Hollywood director Frank Capra comes to town, and actors George and Charlotte Hay plan to take full advantage of it.
The fictional Hays, who perform with a lackluster theater company, want to be major Hollywood film stars, and they are counting on Capra to discover them in, of all places, Buffalo.
“They see this as a big chance — that he’s going to show up and put them in the movies,” said William Powell Jr. of Lanham, who is producing the Prince George’s Little Theatre production of “Moon Over Buffalo” by Ken Ludwig.
Performances start Friday, Feb. 1, and run for three weeks at the Bowie Playhouse.
The company is dedicating the show in memory of Norm Gleichman of Takoma Park, who was set to play George before he died in a boating accident in January.
“He blew me away,” said Powell, citing Gleichman’s standout performance as composer Antonio Salieri in “Amadeus” at the Greenbelt Arts Center.
“He had a zest for life — we’d be well to remember his spirit,” said Powell about Gleichman, who was chief deputy counsel for the Service Employees International Union.
The company was shocked by the loss, said director Ann Lowe-Barrett of Kensington, but it decided to keep going with the production.
“I told the cast we just had to pull it together,” said Powell, who found Sandy Irving to play the part of George.
Irving has been nominated for a WATCH [Washington Area Theatre Community] award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play for his late 2012 performance as Richard Nixon in “Frost/Nixon” at the Greenbelt Arts Center.
In “Moon Over Buffalo,” George and Charlotte are overjoyed about what they hope is their pending shot at stardom, but what’s happening in their real lives soon creates complications, Lowe-Barrett said.
“George is sleeping with the company ingenue [Tiffany Yancey as Eileen] and gets her pregnant,” Lowe-Barrett said. “And Charlotte [Barbara Lambert] thinks George is lying to her and is getting ready to leave with the company lawyer [for an affair of her own].”
As Capra’s visit approaches, George gets drunk and, confused about what play he’s in, turns up in the company’s “Private Lives” rehearsal wearing a Cyrano de Bergerac costume, complete with Cyrano’s very famous and very large nose.
“It’s hilarious,” said Powell about the eccentric characters, the love triangles and the physical comedy.
“There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears poured into this, and everyone brings an energy to it,” Powell said. “There’s a laugh a minute, and there’s never a dull moment. It will leave your funny bone steamed and dry cleaned.”
Correction: Photo captions misidentified the photographer. The correct name is Jon Barrett.