Little League Dads Spar in Rounding Third, Opening Off-Bway Oct. 7

News   Little League Dads Spar in Rounding Third, Opening Off-Bway Oct. 7
Matthew Arkin, who appeared in the Chicago-area world premiere of Richard Dresser's Rounding Third, a tale of Little League dads, plays opposite Robert Clohessy in the Off-Broadway premiere of the comedy, opening Oct. 7.

Previews started Sept. 16 at the John Houseman Theatre. John Rando, Tony Award-winning director of Urinetown, directs. Eric Krebs produces with Ted Tulchin, Robert G. Bartner and Chase Mishkin.

Clohessy appeared in Manhattan Theatre Club's Bad Habits; Arkin had a successful Off-Broadway run in Dinner With Friends.

"Rounding Third introduces us to two coaches — one a veteran, the other a new recruit — and their markedly different personal circumstances and philosophies about the game," according to production notes. "Their clash of styles and wills drives this funny, acerbic and touching play through the bumpy terrain of fatherhood and baseball."

Rounding Third was inspired by playwright Dresser's own coaching experiences, he told Playbill On Line. He said the issues in the play are real in the world of coaching, and in life itself: The losers in life are unhappy and the winners are happy. Or so goes one opinion in the comedy.

One of the classic tensions of Little League is explored in the play: Are the kids and parents doing it to win or simply for the love of the game? "My son is now 13 and I coached his last year of Little League and he moved up to Babe Ruth League," Dresser said in a phone interview from his home in Westchester County. "There were all these 13-year-olds in this town where I live and they needed a coach. I was really, really hoping somebody would step up and I could help out as my schedule permitted. Literally, nobody stepped up. So I plunged in and [coached] with a friend of mine. We had a great time. But it was a big jump from Little League because they're playing on the major league diamond, the kids had to adjust, you're playing against other towns. There is more pressure."

Dresser's plays include Wonderful World, What Are You Afraid Of?, Below the Belt, The Downside, Alone at the Beach, Better Days, Bait & Switch, Bed & Breakfast and Splitsville.

Rounding Third premiered in fall 2002 at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, IL, featuring George Wendt and Arkin. It has since played productions at Laguna Playhouse and San Diego's Old Globe Theatre (with Tom McGowan and Jeffrey Hutchinson). It plays San Jose Rep in early 2004. Dresser said he's been rewriting and refining the play since its 2002 debut.

Designers are Derek McLane (set) and F. Mitchell Dana (lighting).

Rando's directorial credits also include Dance of the Vampires, Neil Simon's The Dinner Party, Mere Mortals and Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight.

Krebs' projects have included Broadway's Electra, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues and the current Bill Maher: Victory Begins at Home, as well as Off Broadway's Little Ham and Serenade the World.

Tickets are $55. The John Houseman Theatre is at 450 W. 42nd Street. For information, call (212) 239-6200. For group sales, call (212) 967-7079.

Robert Clohessy and Matthew Arkin in <i>Rounding Third</i>.
Robert Clohessy and Matthew Arkin in Rounding Third. Photo by Bruce Gilkas
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