Matthew Arkin and George Wendt are Little League coaches in the world premiere of Richard Dresser's Rounding Third, beginning performances Oct. 9 at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, IL.
Northlight artistic director BJ Jones will direct the two hander, running to Nov. 17. Official opening is Oct. 15.
Wendt, known for TV's "Cheers" and Broadway's Art, has his theatrical roots in The Second City in Chicago, where Arkin's dad, Alan Arkin, also cut his teeth. The younger Arkin is a respected actor whose credits include Off-Broadway's Dinner With Friends.
In the new work, Dresser (Below the Belt) explores the personalities that drive the world of Little League baseball, with Wendt and Arkin playing rival down on-their-luck Little League coaches on the same team "who battle their own demons and each other as they mount a season against all odds." Arkin is Michael, who subscribes to the attitude of "it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game," which interferes with the goal of Don, played by Wendt, whose "singular goal to crush the competition."
Jones and Dresser began their collaboration on Rounding Third when Jones was invited to Alliance Theatre in Atlanta in 2000 to direct Dresser's Below the Belt. Dresser, who also wrote for TV's "The Job" and "The Education of Max Bickford." A staged reading was held in New York, with George Wendt and Mark McKinney, in January 2002. Jones helmed another reading with Wendt and Arkin, July 24-25, at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV. Richard Dresser's plays include Gun-Shy, Wonderful World, Something in the Air, Alone at the Beach, Better Days, Bait and Switch, Bed & Breakfast, At Home and Splitsville.
Designers are Lindsay Jones (sound); Rachel Healy (costumes) and Todd Rosenthal (set).
Northlight Theatre, committed to new works, gave the world premiere of Jason Robert Brown's The Last 5 Years in 2001. The company presents at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd. Call (847) 673-6300 for tickets and information.
— By Kenneth Jones