“Laughter on the 23rd Floor” Laughter Backstage at the Pollard Theatre
Written by Clayton J. Blair, cast member
“Laughter on the 23rd Floor” is a story based on what it was like working on “Your Show of Shows”, with Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and many others who became influential television/stage comedic writers/performers, while also portraying the reality of “show business”. Now, personally, this cast has touched my heart. August marks 20 years for me to be collaborating with artists such as Timothy Stewart (Max), and James Hughes (Val). Both are current Company members, having collaborated 20+ years at the Pollard. Stewart remarks “Every show is different, and Neil Simon has its own style, yet Don has a way of explaining it [to me] in which I understand, which can be difficult.” Hughes, the resident company shop foreman, and all-around artist, says “Every member of the cast has brought an element which makes for great story telling.”
The Pollard Theatre has become one of the most respected Theatre companies in Oklahoma, as well as becoming a “home” to many. In his Pollard Theatre Directorial debut, Donald Jordan, artistic director of CityRep, recalls that the two theatres have collaborated in recent years on several shows, including “The Laramie Project”, and “Mountaintop”, and as he and W. Jerome Stevenson have “become very good friends, working with the Pollard has always been a little like a vacation.” Steve Emerson is company stage manager with CityRep and has been working with Don since 1981, likens the efforts of stage management to the “Captain of the Starship Enterprise, or a great conductor, as the Captain needs to know every detail of the ship in order to steer his crew in the right direction.” Coming from a man who has worked in every facet of theatre from community to Broadway, his comments are not to be taken lightly.
Production stage manager Joshua T. McGowen, also a company member, believes that “working with this group has been a performer’s dream.” Kaleb M. Bruza (Kenny) echoes McGowen’s statement, saying “I always love working with Don, as he brings such a wealth of knowledge to a production; this is definitely a cream of the crop type of cast.” You see, the Pollard “has way of making every production feel like a family”, says Tiffany Tuggle (Carol). “It is a funny show and the characters have bled into our real lives because the cast, itself, is so naturally funny.” Keegan Zimmerman (Milt, in his Pollard debut) says “Working with this group has been a dream, and I’ve really enjoyed growing with this group of talented individuals.”
The cast also consists of two understudies, Tim Welch, male understudy and sound operator, and Sarah Henry, female understudy, as well as stage right operator. Henry states “it has been a great working experience, and this cast is definitely on top of their game,” while Welch, who has been nothing but a hard worker and team player, refers to the experience as being a “game changer.” “The bottom line is that I could not imagine a more enjoyable experience, personally” says Jared Blount, Pollard Director of Media and portraying Lucas. “This specific piece of comedic work will surprise the audience in the rollercoaster of emotions it takes you on” as remarked by Jon Haque, “Ira”, CityRep Business manager, and two-time Emmy award winner.
I will close with a comment from Kris Schinske (Helen), “It will send you back out into the world with the understanding that it’s going to be all right, and even in the face of adversity, we can all still find a little laughter”.
“Laughter on the 23rd Floor” runs August 25th through September 9th. And tickets can be found at www.ThePollard.Org, or by calling 405-282-2800. See you there!