George Wendt and Mark McKinney play a couple of Little League fathers in a private New York City reading of Richard Dresser's new play, Rounding Third, Jan. 7, presented by Northlight Theatre, the respected Chicago-area company that gave the musical, The Last Five Years its world premiere in 2001.
Northlight artistic director B.J. Jones directs the reading, with an eye toward giving the two-hander its world premiere with Wendt and McKinney in fall 2002 at his theatre in Skokie, IL. The reading is to assess changes made since a fall 2001 reading and engage the actors' interest in the material. Wendt and Jones know each other from the Chicago acting community, and Jones met Dresser in Atlanta when he helmed the playwright's Georgia premiere of Below the Belt, at The Alliance Theatre.
Rounding Third is about "a couple mismatched Little League coaches and a season of dark 'destiny,'" Jones told Playbill On-Line. Wendt (TV's "Cheers," Broadway's Art) plays a father whose wife is leaving him, McKinney (Off-Broadway's Fuddy Meers, TV's "Kids in the Hall") plays a father who is a widower.
"It uses the world of Little League to llluminate the lives of these two rather sad individuals who are trying to live through their children and for their children, and how those lines get blurred," Jones explained. "The play does have darkly comic tension, not unlike Below the Belt, and as the play progresses we get beyond the setup of the familiar 'Little League father' image to their real life troubles."
Dresser is also known for Alone at the Beach, Gun Shy, Wonderful World and his writing for television, including the series, "The Job." *
Jason Robert Brown's two-actor musical about a broken marriage, The Last Five Years, had its world premiere in early 2001 at Northlight in Skokie and was praised by local and national critics. Time magazine put it on its 10 Best List of 2001. Its Off Broadway premiere is Feb. 12 (first preview) at the Minetta Lane Theatre.