110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
posted Jan 17, 2013 - 12:38:41pm
“Reality is a bummer. God, how much better writing is ... You don’t get to play God, you get to be God! ... Push time backwards or forwards or put it on hold. Bend it, twist it, tie it in knots or tie it in ribbons, the choice is yours. And oh, what choices ...” — Neil Simon, Jake’s Women
The Athens Theatre in DeLand invites you to don your writer’s cap and enter the mind of America’s greatest playwright through Neil Simon’s partially autobiographical “dramedy” Jake’s Women, running Jan. 25-Feb. 10.
Years before Jake’s Women, Simon wrote Chapter 2, in which the protagonist’s life paralleled his own feelings of guilt and happiness about finding new love and marriage only months after the death of his first wife. Many have called Jake’s Women “Chapter 3,” because it focuses on the same dynamic, but years later, when marriage No. 2 turns out not so happily-ever-after.
The play is about Jake (played by David Lowe), a successful New York writer, whose second marriage is on the rocks (much like his wife’s drinks). As he struggles to fix his marriage, he dissolves into a psychosis-like, fictional world made up of his own versions of the real women who matter in his life.
Jake conjures up his current wife, Maggie (Kimmy Nocita), his dead first wife, Julie (Alexa Baldwin – me!), his daughter Molly at age 12 (Amelia Ballesteros) and at age 21 (Jessica Ryan), his sister Karen (Terri Schmidt), and his therapist, Edith (Karen McDonald). Each expresses what Jake wants (or what his brain thinks he needs) to hear to find his way back to reality and a mutually fulfilling marriage. Simon highlights, though, how crazy these tendencies are through the hysterical scene with Shelia (Sara Humbert), a short-term real girlfriend.
As in most of his plays, Neil Simon wrote Jake’s Women about situations and people he knew. Jake is in many ways Simon’s vision of himself: an author, a New Yorker, a Jew, a loving father, and a man seemingly incapable of a successful marriage. In 1973, Simon’s first wife of 20 years, Joan, died. Just months later, he met and married his second wife, Marsha. However, the play’s current wife (Maggie) is probably more closely based on Simon’s third marriage to Diane Lander, as he was reuniting with her and about to embark on yet another marriage to her at the time he wrote the play.
In many scenes, the audience can picture Neil Simon writing through his dead wife’s eyes about him. “I don’t want to be a shrine. I don’t want to be a touched up photo in a family album. I want to be me because even a memory deserves some self respect ...”
He also writes what he must have heard from his subsequent wives when the Maggie character says, “I had to live your memories for so long. It was always your friends, your family, your work, as if I were a replacement, a substitute, always trying to make the first team.”
Director Gary Norris has done many Neil Simon plays, but says, “This has a whole other dimension to it. It has more drama than most of his plays. The whole idea of looking into someone’s mind and telling the story from that angle is different for Neil Simon. Most of his [plays] are straightforward stories with funny characters.” This has the funny characters, but with a more realistic story, delivered in an imaginative way.
Neil Simon explained his take on how this could be a comedic play in saying, “My view is ‘how sad and funny life is.’ I can’t think of a humorous situation that does not involve some pain. I used to ask, ‘What is a funny situation?’ Now I ask, ‘What is a sad situation, and how can I tell it humorously?’”
I think he succeeded.
Showtimes and tickets
Jake’s Women will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10.
Tickets to the show cost $20 for VIP seats (rows A-E, in the center), $16 for adults, $14 for senior citizens, $10 for students/children, and $12 per person for groups of eight or more.
Check out these other events at the Athens Theatre:
Sunday, Jan. 13 — The Four Preps will doo-wop onto our stage for one amazing matinee performance at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday and Friday, Feb. 14 and 15 — We invite you to a twisted Valentine’s Day as we bring back the ever-popular The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with a special early 9 p.m. showtime on the 14th, and an 11:30 p.m. showtime on the 15th.
Saturday, Feb. 16 — “The landslide will bring you down” to the Athens with Nearly Nicks, a Stevie Nicks tribute band, at 7:30 p.m.
For tickets or further information about these great events, go to www.athensdeland.com or call the Athens box office at 386-736-1500. The box office is open 1-5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and one hour before performances.
— Alexa Baldwin is marketing and operations manager for Sands Theater Center Inc.
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