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Apartment 3A at the Beckett Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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The Clockwork Theatre Presents:

Apartment 3A

By Jeff Daniels
(Jeff Daniels Website)
Directed by Owen M. Smith

At the
Beckett Theatre
(Theatre Row Website)
410 West 42nd Street

Marianna McClellan as Annie Wilson
Philip J. Cutrone as Dal
Doug Nyman as Donald Paterson
Jay Rohloff as Elliot Brown
Vincent Vigilante as Tony

Scenic Design: Olga Mill
Costume Design: Jocelyn Melechinsky
Co-Lighting Design: Joshua Windhausen and Taryn Kennedy
Co-Sound Design: R. Canterberry Hall and lǽden Hovorka
Technical Director: Vincent Vigilante
Production Stage Manager: Stephanie Call
Original Music: lǽden Hovorka, Angelo Miliano, Jillian Russo
Harrison Harvey, Exec. Director, Clockwork Theatre
and Katie Rosin
Originally Produced by the Purple Rose Theatre Company (1996)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 29, 2008

It is not often that a small cast in an Off-Broadway play rivets the audience so effectively and so early on, as does the Apartment 3A cast of three, plus two in minor roles. Jeff Daniels, known for his captivating performance in Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo, founded The Purple Rose Theatre Company in Michigan, for which he wrote nine plays. Apartment 3A was written in 1996 and is set somewhere in the Midwest, in an apartment clearly labeled as the title. It is a play about love, faith, nature, hope, happiness, trust, humor, humility, and even the joy of religion and the joy of sex. There are scenes of pragmatic business, surreal other-worldliness, philosophical debate, onstage simulated sex, religious introspection, cooking and dining, and a discussion of the mating habits of polar bears.

Annie Wilson, recovering from the demise of a relationship, rents 3A on the spot, from the building’s super, Dal. Annie’s neighbor, across the hall, Donald Peterson, lonely because his wife travels for work, insists on building her trust and emotional comeback. At work, Annie does TV fundraising for a local PBS station, and Elliott Brown, a co-worker, is becoming obsessed with her, but Annie has no interest. Tony, the PBS station manager, takes charge, when Annie unravels on air, and warns children that Big Bird will die, if their parents do not immediately contribute to the station. Parents rally, money is raised, and Annie keeps unraveling. Elliott tries to rescue her, but Annie is already obsessed herself, now, with Donald, who appears on cue.

There are humorous asides about Dal’s inebriated wife, a cellist upstairs, Donald’s love of eggs, Elliott’s love of Polar Bears, and Annie’s withering vulnerability. The role of God and faith are interwoven throughout, and apparently this is one reason that The Clockwork Theatre took the play, as Clockwork’s mission is to produce shows with an emphasis on story line and “universal truths”. Their mission statement says, “We aim to engage and enrich our audiences through producing relevant, modern works, which will affect them long after the curtain falls’. As it happens, I do still think of this production and the sincere, sparkling performances as well.

Marianna McClellan as Annie is at once taut, tense, and tender. She seduces and quickly shifts gears. Doug Nyman as Donald, a character more elusive as time moves forward, is magnetic, pondering, and gallant. When he engages Annie in dinner at home, the conversation turns complex. Jay Rohloff as Elliot, also Artistic Director of Clockwork, is a man driven with lust, love, religion, and persistence. And, that persistence pays off, all the way to the waltz for two. Donald had encouraged Annie to wait for the perfect man for the perfect waltz, the ultimate loving experience. Donald had also encouraged her to open up her heart and mind, even if a miracle seems impossible. The element of faith allows for the potential of miracles and the belief in the possible.

The minor roles of Dal, the super, entertainingly portrayed by Philip J. Cutrone, and Tony, the PBS manager, authentically acted by Vincent Vigilante, round out this cast. Owen M. Smith, Director, brings out the pathos, passion, and playfulness of this inventive and thought-provoking play, which remains timeless after the twelve years since its creation. Mr. Smith does not rush the characters, but rather allows time to crystallize the moments. Kudos to Jeff Daniels.

Philip J. Cutrone and Marianna McClellan
Apartment 3A
Photo Courtesy of Harrison Harvey

Marianna McClellan
Apartment 3A
Photo Courtesy of Harrison Harvey

Marianna McClellan
Apartment 3A
Photo Courtesy of Harrison Harvey

Marianna McClellan and Jay Rohloff
Apartment 3A
Photo Courtesy of Harrison Harvey

Marianna McClellan and Doug Nyman
Apartment 3A
Photo Courtesy of Harrison Harvey

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at