The cast members of CLT’s upcoming production of the comedy “It’s Only A Play” are, from left, Benjamin Simpson, Jennifer Groover, Brian Pfohl, Sarah Duncan, John Blanchette, Roger Philippon, and Jamie Bannister. The show opens on Jan. 19. Submitted photo by DNA Photography

The L/A Community Little Theatre will open its 83rd season with the Terrence McNally hit comedy “It’s Only A Play.” Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28; and at 2 p.m. on Jan. 22 and 29.

A wealthy first-time Broadway producer is throwing an opening night party in her luxurious Manhattan home. As she and her guests nervously await the first reviews to come in, they display some massive egos and insecurities. Alternately raucous and ridiculous, this comedy proves that sometimes the biggest laughs happen offstage.

“They say ‘There’s no people like show people?’ Well, that is definitely true as this catty and neurotic group gossips, backstabs, and takes secret pleasure in each other’s bad reviews, but ultimately pull together as a family and make plans for their next show together,” notes director Eileen Messina. “If you have ever been onstage, performed in any way, or taken part in any group project, you will recognize these people and their feelings,” she adds.

There are seven characters in the show: Julia Budder, the producer (played by Jamie Bannister); Sir Frank Finger, the young British avantgarde director (played by Ben Simpson); Peter Austin, the playwright making his Broadway debut (played by Brian Pfohl); James Wicker, the sitcom star and Peter’s best friend (played by John Blanchette); Virginia Noyes (played by Jennifer Groover), a doped-up diva who has been drummed out of Hollywood and is trying to resurrect her career by appearing on Broadway; Ira Drew (played by Roger Philippon) a “vicious” NY theater critic who crashes the party; and Gus Head (played by Sarah Duncan), a fresh-off-the-bus cater waiter who arrived that very day from the Midwest.

The show was a star-studded hit on Broadway with a cast led by Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Megan Mullally, Stockard Channing and F. Murray Abraham. Critic Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press referred to it as “a pure hoot, a rollicking comedy . . . that gleefully dissects modern Broadway and doesn’t pretend to mask its targets by using fake names . . .”

While Messina directs both dramas and comedies, she notes that her heart is really more with comedy. “The playwrights do their best to write a funny script, but then it’s up to the director to tweak and vary the performances so that the humor is accessible to all. As someone famous once said: ‘Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.’ My actors know how often I say ‘I think we can make that even funnier.’ With a great cast like this one, sometimes all that is needed is a slightly different delivery, a raise of an eyebrow or an awkward pause.”

Since the play includes adult themes and language, CLT recommends that audience members be at least 16 years of age. Messina clarifies that anyone under 16 may not appreciate the middle-aged humor, or the references to current actors and Broadway shows.

Ticket prices (including all fees) are $22 for adults, $19 for seniors, and $14 for students. Tickets are available online at or by calling 207-783-0958. Subscribers to CLT’s 83rd season can enjoy savings of 25 percent and get four shows for the price of three. Priority reserved seating is offered to subscribers, and the new season ticket prices are $66 for adults, $57 for seniors, and $42 for students (prices include all fees). Season tickets are now on sale at

The Community Little Theatre is located at 30 Academy St., Auburn.

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