‘Blame it on Beckett’ Opens Friday at Montgomery Playhouse by Bruce Hirsch

Blame it on Beckett, presented by Montgomery Playhouse in partnership with the City of Gaithersburg opens this Friday, Jan. 10th at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn. Written by John Morogiello, the play is a biting comedy that examines the effort to get a play from regional theater to New York. Like any work environment, there is ambition, manipulation, love, hate, conniving, shifting alliances, and backstabbing;in short, all the things that make theater fun

Mike, Tina, Heidi, Jim - Chris Hawkins (Mike), Linda Hirsch (Tina), Emily Sucher (Heidi), and Nick Sampson (Jim). Photo by David Jones.
Chris Hawkins (Mike), Linda Hirsch (Tina), Emily Sucher (Heidi), and Nick Sampson (Jim). Photo by David Jones.

Director David Dossey is the perfect choice for this project having spent many years working in professional theater. He is also friends with the playwright, John Morogiello, and has directed his work before.

The cast is an interesting mix that showcases community theater ‘s wide draw. There are actors with years of experience performing alongside actors who haven’t been on stage in years.

Nick Sampson plays Jim Foley the cynical dramaturg/literary manager. Nick has been performing in the area for more than 30 years. Having done his share of contemporary comedies and Shakespeare over the years, the role of Jim appealed to him. Nick describes Jim as a “jaded cog in the theatrical machine who doesn’t handle stress well, especially when a young idealistic MFA graduate joins the staff.”

Chris Hawkins  (Mike) and Nick Sampson (Jim). Photo by David Jones.
Chris Hawkins (Mike) and Nick Sampson (Jim). Photo by David Jones.

Emily Sucher plays Heidi Bishop, that “young idealistic MFA graduate” who works in the box office but has ambitions to take over the literary office and transform it. Emily, who is also a singer, received her training at and is a graduate of John Hopkins University.

Chris Hawkins is Mike Braschi the ambitious, opportunistic business manager who sees his job as a stepping stone to better things. Chris last appeared on stage in the seventh grade, some thirty years ago. The intervening years included 20 years in the Navy. “I originally wanted to see how I could help around the Arts Barn. I was told there was an audition so I thought I would give it a try. I have found the role to be both challenging and fun.”

Linda Hirsch has the role of Tina Fike, a famous playwright. Linda has been involved with The Montgomery Playhouse for forty plus years. “I have worked primarily backstage in the role of stage manager, assistant director, and a props person. It has been many moons since I have ventured on stage  but when I saw the audition notice for Blame it on Beckett, I knew I had to give it a go. The part of an over 60 year-old lady who could command a room would be a challenge. This character is so not me.”

Emily Sucher (Heidi)  and Nick Sampson (Jim). Photo by David Jones.
Emily Sucher (Heidi) and Nick Sampson (Jim). Photo by David Jones.

The playwright, John Morogiello, is also a local resident. He is a Playwright in Residence at the Maryland State Arts Council and a member of The Dramatists Guild. John says, “I wrote the play back in 1998, I believe.  I had been commissioned by a Tony Award-winning director to write a different play, and devoted myself exclusively to its development for a couple years.  Then, one week before a backer’s audition in Manhattan, the director suddenly left the project, effectively killing it. My then agent dropped me and it seemed as though my career was at an end. The resultant fury inspired me to write Blame It On Beckett. I laughed maniacally throughout the writing process and purged a great many demons.” John will be joining the cast onstage after the Jan. 12th performance for a Q & A.

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Blame it on Beckett plays from January 10-26, 2014 through at:
The Gaithersburg Arts Barn – 311 Kent Square Road, in Gaithersburg, MD. Reservations can be made by calling: (301) 258-6394 or by purchasing them online. Tickets are $16 for non-residents, and $14 City for Gaithersburg residents.


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