‘Magnetic North’ walks fine line between flirtation, betrayal

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The play, described by director Christopher Schario as “an intelligent, sexy and thought-provoking new play,” runs March 19-28.

In this production, four actors “explore the faith in faithfulness and the fine line between flirtation and betrayal when a husband stumbles upon the e-mail address of a former girlfriend and is pulled toward the past,” Schario said.

The cast includes two familiar faces and two newcomers to TPT’s stage.

Starring as James, the husband pulled between his present and his past, is David Newer, actor, director and acclaimed acting teacher. He appeared in TPT’s “Dinner with Friends” and “Rounding Third.”

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“We have the greatest respect for David’s work and we immediately thought of him for this role,” said Schario, who is TPT’s artistic director.

Newer is a teacher at the famous William Esper Studios in New York, as well as an accomplished actor who has appeared Off-Broadway and on television’s “Law and Order.”

Portraying his wife, Leigh, is Janet Mitchko, TPT’s associate artistic director who has appeared in numerous roles on its stage.

Playing Mara, the beautiful woman from James’ past, is New York actress Natalie Saibel. It’s her first performance for TPT. She most recently appeared with the American Repertory Theatre in Boston.

Also a new face onstage at TPT is New York actor Nathan Darrow in the role of the entertaining sidekick, Emmett.

“We saw scores of people for these parts, and both Nathan and Natalie stood out,” Schario said. He emphasized that “Magnetic North” requires a cast of “very specific characters,” and these actors “set these relationships on fire, and they make the play come alive for the audience.”

Although the title suggests a particular direction — “Magnetic North” — Schario said every time the audience things it knows where the story is going, it takes some unexpected turns.

“Most of us have experienced a ‘what if, if only’ moment in our lives, and this play looks at the complexity of human relationships with great compassion, humor and honesty,” Schario said. To quote from the play, “We’re all curious from birth. Collecting things we shouldn’t collect. Touching what we shouldn’t. It fuels us. We’re drawn to it.”

Schario said he believes that this magnetic pull is both thrilling and terrifying, and that playwright William Donnelly has created the perfect combination of poignant drama and humor that most people will be able to relate to.

“Your heart is pulled to the place it needs to be. It’s an optimistic play with a surprising ride to the end,” Schario said.

Schario added that he hopes playwright Donnelly will be able to participate in talks with audience members at the end of one or more performances.

“Magnetic North” was the winner of the 2006 Clauder Competition for New England Playwrights.

The set design is by Michael Reidy, lighting by Bart Garvey and costumes by Jonna Klaiber.

Go and do

WHAT: “Magnetic North”

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 19-20 and 26-27; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 21 and 28; and 7 p.m. Thursday, March 25

WHERE: The Public Theatre, 31 Maple St., Lewiston

TICKETS: $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and students; group rate for 10 or more, $15. Call 782-3200.

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