“Rounding Third” is about baseball and a kind of a curse, but it’s in the world of Little League and not the Boston Red Sox. This comedy making its Maine premiere on The Public Theatre stage Jan. 21-30 assigns two Little League dads with opposite coaching philosophies to head the same team.

“They are a total mismatch. It’s like ‘The Odd Couple’ in the dugout,” said director Christopher Schario, who recalled seeing the off-Broadway play with a friend.”One of us totally identified with Don and the other identified with Michael,” Schario said. He declined to divulge which coach’s personality was a match for him but said people who know him will have a lot of fun trying to figure it out.

“This play will resonate with anyone who has ever played, coached or had their child participate in any kind of competitive sport,” Schario said.

In this two-actor comedy, playwright Richard Dresser, author of “Gun-Shy,” takes a look at two viewpoints – winning isn’t everything versus winning is the ONLY thing – that parents often exhibit while watching their sons play the All-American pastime.

Dresser tells how his son Sam came home from Little League practice and announced that his coaches had provided the team with a new strategy for their upcoming play-offs. When one of the slower kids on the team got on base, he’d receive a signal directing him to slide to the next base and pretend to be injured. That way, the coaches could take him out of the game and replace him with a faster runner.

“Coach, isn’t that cheating?” Sam asked. “‘No, Sam, that’s called strategy,” the coach replied.

As “Rounding Third” began germinating in Dresser’s mind, he found himself unexpectedly thrust into the fray as an assistant coach, and then as the coach of his own son’s team. Becoming a coach, he discovered his own desire to win and began questioning whether we should protect and nurture our children during this brief, precious time in their lives, or teach them how to compete and win?

David Newer portrays Don, the average, beer drinking, sports nut consumed with taking his kids to the championship. A busy actor, director and acting teacher in New York, Newer was last seen several seasons ago as Tom in The Public Theatre’s production of “Dinner with Friends.”

New York actor Rob Sheridan plays Michael, the ultra-sensitive let’s-just-have-fun father who couldn’t tell you how many outs there are in an inning.

“Rounding Third” is the perfect show for wives who have a hard time convincing their husbands they should go to a play, Schario said.

“They will both love this one,” he said, adding that it’s a great change of pace in the middle of winter when thoughts of spring training can be a cabin-fever reliever.

Stan Spilecki is set designer, Bart Garvey is lighting designer, and Jonna Klaiber is costume designer.

“Rounding Third” contains some adult language.

A free post-show discussion featuring the actors and director will follow the Sunday, Jan. 23, performance.


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