Rep’s ‘Don’t Talk to the Actors’ Goes Behind the Scenes

Rochester Repertory Theatre’s “Don’t Talk to the Actors” cast, from left, Rene Stiller, Laurie Helmers, Larry Sinak, Rich Manfield, Christina Stier and Nick Rudlong.
Andrew Link


Ever wonder what goes on behind the curtain at a play?

It’s not always pretty, but it is funny, according to “Don’t Talk to the Actors,” a comedy opening Friday at the Rochester Repertory Theatre.

“It gives you an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes,” said Mary Bruns Pyfferoen, who is directing the play. “The playwright based it on his own experiences.”

But, she added, “It kind of goes over the top.”

Then again, so do some actors and directors — it’s part of being in theatre, we’re led to assume by this script.

Does it ring true? “Some of it,” Pyfferoen said.

In the play, a young playwright and his fiance anticipate his big break when his play is optioned for Broadway. But they quickly become overwhelmed by what passes for normal behavior in the ego-driven New York theater world.

Pyfferoen said when she first read the play, she had local actors in mind for some of the script’s characters. Her mind was changed a few times as actors at auditions read for roles in the play. “They fit into their parts perfectly,” she said.

She ended up with a cast of Nick Rudlong, newcomer Renee Stiller, Rich Mansfield, Christina Stier, Laurie Helmers and Larry Sinak. For Sinak, best known for dramatic roles in recent years, it’s a rare comedy role. Helmers is stepping away from her specialty of musicals. “She’s also stretching herself,” Pyfferoen said.

At this stage in rehearsals, she said, the actors are still cracking up at each other’s lines. The audience should have the same experience when viewing the play. “You won’t be able to help yourself,” she said.

In any event, the play promises to be eye-opening for audience members who do not routinely take part in the production of a play. “They may get a different idea of what goes into putting in a play,” Pyfferoen said.

Tom Weber, Post-Bulletin   May 2, 2019

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