San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

“Play It Again, Sam” Does Woody Proud

FROM the depths of a New York Cityapartment, with all its urban-apartmenttrappings, emerges an issue as timeless as aWoody Allen film: neurosis.Armed with this background, the LittleTheatre Group (LTG) once again rockedthe stage at the Blanche Brown Theatre inthe western suburb of Escazú with the hypnoticfrenzy of Allen’s “Play It Again,Sam” opening to a full house last Friday.Under the direction of Tom Humes,who described his cast as “the best I couldpossibly get” and “a pleasure to workwith,” Ricardo Jiménez and JennySheffield gave impeccable performancesas a couple of nutcases – Allan Felix andLinda Christie.FELIX, played by Woody Allen in the1972 film version, is a neurotic geekhounded by an assortment of laughableinsecurities that end up bringing him a littletoo close to his best friend’s wife, Christie,a lonely urban housewife neglected by herhusband, played by Joseph Loveday.After Felix’s wife walks out on him,Christie accompanies him through a desperatewoman-hunt. Museums, clubs,restaurants – Felix searches everywhere fora wife replacement, always trying to attractwomen by building himself up to suit hisimage of perfection, one that exists in hismind as well as on stage: HumphreyBogart.Country Day School English teacherTim Hawkins interpreted Bogart expertly,down to his every gesture and the classic,gruff, I-can-have-any-woman-I-want voice.“It’s all in the hat and the coat,”Hawkins said, and explained that Bogart isFelix’s alter ego and “everything he aspiresto be.”However, Felix fails miserably at beingBogart, and women reject him right andleft because he tries too hard.Except for Christie. Felix can be himselfwith her, as they share mutual neurosesand he is not trying to seduce her – untilthe unthinkable happens, leading to Felix’sfinal realization that it’s not so much aboutSam playing it again, because “the key isnot being you (Bogart), it’s being me.”JIMÉNEZ, stepping onto the stage forthe second time since his acting debut inthe Little Theatre Group’s last production,“Trees Die Standing Stall,” said he wasfascinated by his character.“I am a big Woody Allen fan – plus Iam paranoid and neurotic – so I dove rightinto this character,” said Jiménez, a psychologistand industrial engineer whoworks at Hewlett Packard when not onstage.Sheffield, a high school chemistryteacher on maternity leave from CountryDay School, with years of community theaterexperience, said her role as Christiewas “fun, and came naturally” to her.STELLAR performances and thecomic interweaving of unforgettablescenes from Michael Curtiz’s 1942 film“Casablanca” with pink-lit flashes into themind of Felix make this psychologicalromantic comedy a must-see.Inducing unstoppable waves of laughterand a standing ovation on openingnight, the performance has been celebratedby early audiences.“Very smart and witty – very ‘Woody,’in fact,” said Rani Keinan, a tourist fromTel Aviv, Israel, who caught the showwhile on a stopover in San José during histravels through Central America.“I always enjoy their (Little TheatreGroup’s) performances,” affirmed Escazúresident Gina Burgess.“Play It Again, Sam” will be showingthrough June 5. For reservations, call 355-1623 or visit reservations for the May 29 performance– a Women’s Club of Costa Ricabenefit – call 265-5085.

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