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Whidbey Playhouse opens season with a comedy about three elderly women with a shocking secret
Amidst the wackiness on stage, some stifled laughter could be heard from a front row seat at Whidbey Playhouse.
It was the dress rehearsal for the comedy thriller, “Too Soon for Daisies.” Unable to contain short bursts of laughter was none other than the play’s director, Stan Thomas.
It didn’t matter how many times he’d heard the lines before. It didn’t matter that he’d directed the play before in Chicago 10 years earlier.
Thomas was moved time and again by the nutty behavior and mannerisms exhibited by the play’s three leading ladies.
“That’s the part of directing I love,” he said. “I love to see actors create their own characters based on what the script has. I encourage that. I want them to personalize their characters.”
“Too Soon for Daisies” begins playing Friday night, Sept. 6, kicking off the 2013-14 season for the Whidbey Playhouse.
It is the second play directed by Thomas at the playhouse since he and his wife moved to Oak Harbor from Chicago three years ago. His involvement with theater on-and-off stage has spanned three decades from one windy city to another.
“I love this town,” Thomas said. “I love the weather. I love the ocean, the mountains, all that stuff. It’s very nice.”
Thomas also is quite fond of the British play he is currently directing and a cast that includes some veteran playhouse performers who got busy practicing English accents and lots of lines.
His chief task during casting was to find three lead actresses to play the comedy’s central characters. He found them in playhouse regulars Joyce Napoletano, Cori Siggens and Victoria Lacey.
The story revolves around three elderly women who “escape” from a retirement home and turn up at what appears to be an abandoned residence. They dream about it becoming their new home only to find out they’re not the only ones trying to take up residence.
When a visitor arrives, suddenly takes ill and dies with the house’s deed in hand, the plot thickens, the body is hidden and chaos ensues.
“When you go through the audition process you go for specific types,” Thomas said. “I couldn’t be more happy with the people selected.”
Napoletano, who plays the role of Freda Grey, is making her seventh appearance on stage at Whidbey Playhouse.
But she nearly didn’t make it to the last Thursday night’s dress rehearsal.
Sick at home with the stomach flu, and throwing up most of the day, she arrived to the playhouse about an hour and a half before dress rehearsal began.
“That took a lot of courage,” said Lacey, who plays the character with the thickest Cockney accent, Edie Boggs.
Napoletano took on the role partly because she felt the character she portrayed was similar to herself. She also likes doing comedies.
“I wanted to do it No. 1 because of Stan,” Napoletano said. “He’s an amazing man.
“The whole concept of these three old women going through this whole charade appealed to me. I’m also like Freda anyway. It’s not like a real step for me. I’m kind of that controlling, take care of everything (type of person).”
But at 50, she wasn’t sure she would be convincing enough for the part. But then she changed her mind.
“I thought, ‘Well, I’m getting the AARP notices, so I guess I can do it.”
Siggens is a veteran of community theater in Oak Harbor and where she grew up in Vancouver, Wash. She plays the role of the scatter-brained Joy Philpotts.
“I sort of auditioned on a lark not realizing I had 306 lines and that’s 306 cues to memorize,” Siggens said. “That’s OK. At my age, the memory starts to go a little. So this was a real test.”
Siggens was joined on stage by her husband, Jim Siggens, who plays the role of a policeman. Another playhouse regular in the play is Kevin Wm Meyer, who plays the role of a local handyman.
Rounding out the main characters are Rich Doyle, who plays a doctor; Karina Mitchell and James Weagant, who is making his stage debut.
“I thought the entire cast is perfect,” Cori Siggens said.