From the Winston-Salem Journal:
Actors' fine work brings to life the tests of baseball and its parallel with life
SPECIAL TO THE JOURNAL
Published: August 22, 2010
Actors Ken Ashford and Scott Stevens hit over-the-wall home runs with their performances in Rounding Third. The play, written by Richard Dresser and directed by Nathan Adam Sullivan, opened Friday night at Theatre Alliance.
The play debuted in Chicago, appeared off-Broadway and has enjoyed more than 100 productions. Jamie Lawson, Theatre Alliance's artistic director, saw it about a year ago in Greensboro at The Open Space Café Theatre. He liked it so much he invited the director and actors to bring it to Winston-Salem.
Ashford and Stevens play two grown men, trying to be good fathers while still struggling with some of life's hardest lessons themselves. They meet on the baseball field, coaching a Little League team. Ashford is true to the role of Don, the blue-collar clipboard-toting veteran of the game. Stevens is his perfect opposite as Michael, the eager corporate executive whose only sporting experience is curling.
Don and Michael display hilariously different approaches to the game of baseball.
"How do we have fun in baseball?" Don shouts. "Winning. Losing sucks." On the other hand, soft-spoken Michael wants to "create a safe and nurturing atmosphere" in which the boys will learn to be "proud captains of their own little ships."
Trying desperately to make friends despite their differences, Michael arrives with a cup of mocha latte for the beer-swilling coach.
"This isn't the ladies sewing club," Don spits out. He throws the cup in the metal trash can with the telling comment, "I like plain old American coffee."
While Ashford and Scott are the only actors on stage, they do a remarkable job of bringing to life the kid who constantly trips over his untied shoelaces, the one who keeps losing his glasses and the coach's son, Jimmy, who breaks his father's heart by trading the pitcher's mound for a role in Brigadoon.
One of the most heartfelt moments comes near the end of the show with Stevens' eyes-raised-to-heaven monologue. The action freezes as he prays that God will let his son, Frankie, finally catch the ball.
But it took all Ashford's trashcan-kicking and red-in-the-face rage to get our hearts open enough to feel.
And when Stevens yells the line, "Don't slow down when you're rounding third," we're all right there with him, win or lose.
Theatre Alliance presents Rounding Third today at 2 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26-28, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 29 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14, $12 for students and seniors. The theater is at 1047 W. Northwest Blvd. To purchase tickets, call 800-838-3006 or go to www.wstheatrealliance.org.