Cresson Lake Playhouse's upcoming production of Neil Simon's play "Come Blow Your Horn" isn't being staged as part of a couples retreat - but it might as well be.
"One cool thing is that there are three sets of married couples involved in this show," said director Sam Wagner. "My wife [Rachel Wagner] is the stage director. Another couple [Eric and Kate Wolf] is playing the parents, and they met on the CLP stage. Another couple [Cody Jones and Megan Marcaurelle-Jones] is in the cast who actually got engaged on the CLP stage."
According to Wagner, who will be making his directing debut with the show, the couples behind the production are just part of a group that knows each other very well.
Mirror photo by?Patrick Waksmunski
Real-life married couple Cody Jones and Megan Marcaurelle-Jones play Alan and Connie in “Come Blow Your Horn.”
"It was my first time holding auditions and luckily my friends just happened to be - in my opinion - some of the most talented actors in the area," he said. "They came out and auditioned and I picked who I thought were the best performers."
CLP will present "Come Blow Your Horn" at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31, Sept. 1 and Sept. 4-8 and at 2 p.m. Sept. 2.
"Come Blow Your Horn," Simon's first play, follows Buddy Baker (played by Jonathan O'Harrow), a 21-year-old college grad who leaves his parents' home to move in with his older brother, Alan (Jones), a bachelor living a swinging 1960s lifestyle. Alan thinks he's going to teach his brother how to be a ladies' man, but discovers that he isn't as happy as he believes he is.
If you go
What: "Come Blow Your Horn"
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31, Sept. 1 and Sept. 4-8 and 2 p.m. Sept. 2
Where: Cresson Lake Playhouse, Loretto
Tickets: $17 for adults and $10 for students; tickets available by calling 472-4333
"I'm a big fan of Neil Simon's," Wagner, 25, of Cresson said. "I've always been a fan of his humor, and once I heard the show was coming up, I went out and rented the movie, which starred Frank Sinatra. The movie was decent, but the script is just hilarious.
"[Directing is] something I've wanted to do for a while. ... I had my schedule free, I liked the writer, I liked the space and I just jumped right in."
It wasn't quite such a perfect storm for O'Harrow; The role of Alan kind of fell into his lap.
"I didn't audition for the role," he said. "It was cast with someone else, and then that person had to drop out and Sam asked me if I would play this role."
As it turned out, Alan Baker was a real switch for the 34-year-old Altoona resident.
"Normally, I end up playing characters who are older than me," he said. "For some reason, I usually end up playing characters who are in their 40s and 50s. It's very rare that I play someone my age, let alone 10 years younger."
But despite coming to the role second-hand, O'Harrow is a big fan of the part.
"Buddy is a very nervous guy and he spends most of his time running around putting out fires," he said. "And it's fun to just be zany. ... I think I just want him to appear to be naive. Even though he's lived in New York City his whole life, he's never really explored it."
While O'Harrow works on making his character naive, Jones has an equally difficult task - playing it cool.
"It's a lot more awkward when you're trying to look cool, rather than playing someone more insecure," he said. "When you're trying to look like you actually know what you're doing ... that's acting for me."
The familiarity of the cast - which isn't just related, but filled with area theater stalwarts - has made "Come Blow Your Horn" a fun experience.
"They're people you're comfortable with," O'Harrow said. "Any time you're working on a project with people you know, it makes it easier. We're able to get past all the 'getting to know you' stuff and jump right in."
It can make for an odd dynamic, though, Jones said.
"It's great," he said. "You're there with your best friends. My wife is in it. And we've known the Wolfs forever. It's a strange line, too, because this is my best friend, but it's also a director and I'm trying to do what he wants.
"I think it's going to really come through to the audience that we're having a blast."
The audience should also be able to relate to what they see on stage, Wagner said.
"The show was written in the '60s, but all the things about family are still relevant today," he said. "And I think that anyone will come to the show and say, 'Oh yeah, that's how my family goes."
Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.