Area actors try out for parts in Neil Simon play

Monday, June 7, 2004

Six women and two men survived the first round of auditions for Neil Simon's "The Star-Spangled Girl" last night.

Presented by the River City Players, the two-man, one-woman play directed by Dr. Roseanne Whitlow was a comedy even during the tryout, with the director and auditioners still laughing at the jokes after the same two scenes were read five times.

Christy Smith took the floor as the first woman to audition for the night.

"I was so nervous," she said, acknowledging that her hands were visibly shaking her manuscript. The 30-year-old Cape Girardeau resident had never been in a play or auditioned.

"I guess I always wanted to, but I was always afraid of stage fright," Smith said.

Growing older and owning her own business has helped her shed enough fear and gather the courage to try something new, she said. Also, she tries to be an inspiration to her 8-year-old daughter, Joselynn, exposing her to new things, she said.

Regina Hagen, 25, of Scott City is no stranger to the River City Players. Her last role was portraying a dumbfounded girlfriend in February's "Sex, Love and the IRS." Usually performing in children's plays and musicals, "The Star-Spangled Girl" would be her second comedy.

"Neil Simon is a great writer and he's well known for his comedies," she said, thus it sounded like something fun.

When it comes to personal criticism, "I have a bad accent," she said, with a laugh, referring to the female character's Southern drawl. "Even though I live in the country, I don't think I had a very good country accent."

Christy Pelikan delivered a cold reading with confidence.

"This was easier than high school," the 18-year-old of Cape Girardeau said. While hopeful actors usually cram lines and forget them onstage, she was at ease Sunday night with no pressure to get the line right the first time, she said. Her last performance was as a physical character in the April production of "Dearly Departed," also put on by the River City Players.

Simon's "first flop," as Whitlow described it, has the "perfect little love triangle." Olympic swimmer Sophie moves down the hall from the impoverished Norman and Andy, who are operating a fledgling political-opposition magazine. After falling madly in love with Sophie on "first sniff," Norman begins an elaborate stalking routine to woo her heart. Sophie vents her frustration to Andy and falls in love with him after she gets a sniff of him, Whitlow said.

"I could easily cast it many times over with the people we've had tonight," she said, referring to the group's diverse interpretation of the characters.

Final auditions are at 7 p.m. today at Port Cape Restaurant.

jmmetelski@semissourian.com

335-6611 extension 127

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