Not everybody in theater gets a second chance, either with a role or a production. But for the three actors and one director behind “Pvt. Wars,” which comes to Center Stage Theater tonight, they get an opportunity to return to a show from years ago.
These three actors, Sean O’Shea, George Coe, and Sean Jackson, along with Bill Egan, their director, mounted James McLure’s play two years ago at Plaza Playhouse in Carpinteria. Mr. McLure’s play, which started as a one-act in 1979 then got rewritten as a two-act years later, features three Vietnam vets in a VA hospital, all dealing with PTSD. But it’s also funny, a character study of the ways humans cope with trauma, try to make connections, and concoct strategies to get through the day. It’s an anti-war play that doesn’t mention the war, but just honestly looks at the people left in its aftermath.
Actor Brian Harwell has gone from strength to strength, from bit parts in SBCC productions when he first started acting to comfortably playing leads at the Ensemble Theater and elsewhere. He’s even earned a few awards. But now he’s taking on his first big directing job, opening Circle Bar B’s new season with “Return Engagements,” a tale of three couples, which premieres tonight.
“Every once in a while the opportunity comes along to direct,” he says. “It’s good to see the other side of the equation. And when I come out of it I feel that I’ve re-armed my own acting chops.”
“The Girl in the Freudian Slip” would have been lost to the sands of Broadway time in the 1960s if opening night reviews were anything to go by. It didn’t last too long in 1967, but Bernadette Peters, who made her debut in the original cast, did (to the tune of seven Tony nominations, two of which she won). As did playwright William F. Brown, who went on to write a musical called “The Wiz.”
Circle Bar B Theatre has made a successful run of resurrecting light comedic fare and plans to do so again this weekend, when Joe Beck directs its next production.