Theatre Lawrence’s upcoming outdoor, two-man play ‘Rounding Third’ is like a baseball-themed ‘Odd Couple’
photo by: Theatre Lawrence
Theatre Lawrence’s upcoming performance will be an outdoor, two-man show complete with social distancing. And while the show’s director says the elements of nature will pose the greatest challenges to the performance, it will also complement the play, which takes place largely outdoors, on baseball fields.
The squawks of birds, the sounds of cars passing by — “all those things, they would have been there for the actual practices and all that,” said the show’s director, Doug Weaver.
“Rounding Third” is a comedy by Richard Dresser that follows two Little League coaches through a season, as they try to reconcile their different approaches to the game. Don, played by Dylan Hart, is the tough head coach who wants to win. A recurring joke throughout the show, Weaver said, is that Don only has one rule, “but that one rule changes about 15 times throughout the play,” he said. Michael, played by Ryan Hamlin, is a newcomer to town and to baseball. He just wants to coach to spend time with his son, who’s never played before.
Weaver described the play as a sort of “Odd Couple,” referencing the popular 1960s film.
“Dresser is smart and witty and the dialogue kind of cackles,” Weaver said. “But it’s got a heart… it shows a love of baseball and a fascinating sort of interplay between two opposing ideas. It moves me.”
Weaver said the show, which was performed off-Broadway in the early 2000s, has only two actors and is perfect for the current atmosphere. Theatre Lawrence is altering the show slightly to set it in the present day, Weaver said. The actors discuss masks and social distancing. They also changed a part of the original show where one coach is meant to choke another. Now, in order to maintain social distancing, the coaches have a bat fight instead.
The fact that the performances will take place outdoors does fit the show’s setting, Weaver remarked, but he said there’s just “something about being contained in the theater.”
“You go outdoors and the ceiling is the sky and the wings are the rest of the world,” Weaver said. “It’s big, and it’s kind of hard to maintain that sense of us against the world. That sense of closeness.”
If natural elements cancel performances, Theatre Lawrence might use Sundays as rainout dates.
Weaver said he loves this show because he loves baseball, and he can identify with the characters.
“I have been both of those guys,” he said. He’s been the Little League baseball coach that wants to win, and he’s also been the outsider trying to protect his son. Weaver said the show is “funny, and it’s touching, and it’s pretty real. It’s two fathers coaching a Little League baseball team.”
“Rounding Third” shows this weekend and next at Theatre Lawrence. Performances are on Sept. 18, 19, 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and the audience will sit in “pods,” with a maximum of four people per pod. For more information, go to theatrelawrence.com.