The Gallery Players have a reputation for producing high-quality revivals of recent Broadway shows. If their production of Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out was any indication, this reputation is well-deserved.
Deftly directed by Tom Wojtunik (who recently demonstrated his skills directing Edenville as part of EAT’s Triple Threat series), Take Me Out tells the story of Darren Lemming (Noshir Dalal), the golden boy of the New York Empires baseball team, and his decision to come out of the closet at the peak of his career. With the blissful arrogance of the truly gifted, he can’t fathom that this decision could ever have any consequences for him or his charmed life.
Naturally, hubris like that must be punished, and in Darren’s case, the instrument of punishment is Shane Mungitt (Peter Hawk), a racist, homophobic pitcher who is the only person who can lead the Empires to victory.
This was an incredibly strong production in all aspects. The sets, designed by Cully Long, whose inventive work has recently graced the Manhattan Children’s Theatre, were complex yet harmonious. With only minor modifications and using the strong lighting design (Travis L. Walker), the set, which looked like a locker room in the first scene, easily became a stadium, a bar, a shower room, and various other locations. Sound design by Aaron David Blank was also very effective and added to the production.
Take Me Out featured a strong cast who dazzled, despite Greenberg’s somewhat underwritten characters. Dalal was marvelous as Darren, and he demonstrated some nice range as his character came to grips with his changing self-image. He was particularly strong in the final scenes of the play as Darren takes his first tentative steps toward becoming a new person. Other standouts in the cast were Jonathan C. Kaplan as Kippy, Darren’s best friend on the Empires, who serves as a narrator for the show; Hawk, whose odious Mungitt stole the show more than once; and Scott McGowan, who had the unenviable task of playing Mason Marzac, Darren’s business manager -- a role played on Broadway by the stellar Dennis O’Hare. What made McGowan’s performance particularly strong was the wonderful chemistry between him and Dalal; their scenes were some of the best in the show.
The Gallery Players did an exceptional job with Take Me Out. Let’s hope they continue to knock their shows out of the ballpark.
(Take Me Out also featured Ron Brice, Nobuo Inubushi, John Kudan, Jamil Mena, Joe Moretti, Miguel Romero and Kit Wannen).
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Copyright 2006 Byrne Harrison