‘Rounding Third’ swings for the fences

By on June 19, 2019

At the end of June, the boys of summer are far from gone. Baseball is still in the air, especially in Mount Gretna. There’s no major league affiliation in the hamlet just across the Lancaster County line. Sports enthusiasts are not heading out to the next sports memorabilia auction. Nope, baseball is on stage at Gretna Theatre.

“Rounding Third,” a two-man, comedic play opens at Gretna Theatre June 27 and runs through the weekend for a total of five shows.

In “Rounding Third,” we meet Don (Scott Greer), a veteran Little League coach who believes winning is the most important thing in baseball; he is all about the game. Michael (Anthony Lawton), a coaching newbie, is Don’s assistant coach; Michael is a businessman who believes kids should just have fun.

“The newbie’s arrival shakes everything up,” said director Matt Pfeiffer. “It’s sort of an ‘odd couple’ play.”

The coaches’ conflicting personalities instantaneously clash. Don’s kid is the team’s star pitcher, while Michael’s son can barely remember to tie his shoes.

“It’s comedy, but it does have a lot to say about how men are in touch with their feelings — or not in touch with their feelings,” said Pfeiffer. “The play is very, very funny, but it does have some really great questions to be asked about the nature of manhood and fatherhood. The challenge is balancing the comedy with the emotional truth to these characters.”

Beyond baseball, the characters in “Rounding Third” suffer through extramarital affairs and professional disappointment.

“The playwright, Richard Dresser, looks deeper into the protective layer of machismo and the way that can be ingrained in you at an early age,” said Pfeiffer. “The youth sports aspect is a common experience for any parent, mother or father. Dresser uses the culture of youth sports as a leaping off point.”

He describes the show as “more of an adult comedy,” but not inappropriate for high school-aged kids. There are no children in the show.

“It could be the father-son outing for the s16-year-old and his dad,” said Pfeiffer. “It’s not like ‘The Bad News Bears.’”

Pfeiffer is also familiar with actors Greer and Lawton, having directed them previously in a show based on “The Honeymooners.”

“These are two actors I’ve worked with more than anybody else professionally,” said Pfeiffer. “It seemed like a natural fit (since) I have a long-standing professional and personal relationship with (them) … If you are going to build a two-actor play you can’t ask for two better actors than Tony and Scott.”

This will be Pfeiffer’s first production with Gretna Theatre. His “home away from home” for the past 21 seasons has been the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in Center Valley. He’s currently working on “Much Ado About Nothing.” Away from Shakespearean productions the DeSales University graduate is a freelance artist who has worked on shows in California and Florida, but mostly in Philadelphia where he was born and raised to be a “rabid sports fan.”

Following “Rounding Third,” the open-air Gretna Theatre will host performances of “Oliver!” July 18 through 21, featuring a cast of 30 actors (26 of them from Central PA); a whodunit murder mystery with “Murder for Two” Aug. 1 through 4; and the American Heartland musical tribute from the USO Show Troupe Aug. 22 through 25.

Purchase tickets and learn more at gretnatheatre.org.

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at somepromcu@gmail.com and facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

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