Poignance, laughs live in ‘Apartment 3A’

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By Sara Miller

A New York theater critic once commented that “Apartment 3A,” the latest production by the Evergreen Players, refused to be pigeonholed — it is part comedy, part drama, and all heart. This description not only works for “Apartment 3A,” but for the Evergreen Players as well. The Players’ 2014 season offers a diverse mix of shows, including the musical “Annie,” comedic performances by the EPiC improvisation group, and Jeff Daniels’ play “Apartment 3A,” which opens Friday.

Many people know Daniels from his work in television and movies. Daniels has appeared on the HBO series “The Newsroom” and in movies such as “Dumb and Dumber” and “Pleasantville.” However, his often-overlooked talent is writing plays. Daniels has written and produced 10 original works for the stage, and all of them offer quirky and poignant examinations of a small slice of life that represent the greater human experience.

“Apartment 3A” hinges on the dual themes of discovering true love and finding spiritual faith. Reeling from the loss of what she thought was the love of her life, public television employee Annie Wilson (Kelly Dwyer) has lost her faith in God, men and even PBS. Annie impulsively rents apartment 3A, and is welcomed into the building by mysterious neighbor Donald (Sam Gilstrap), who forces his friendship on her. Donald eventually coaches Annie through her heartache and into a romance with Elliot (Joe Von Bokern). Annie finds a spiritual combatant in Elliot, who is happy to debate the specifics of his Catholic beliefs without having a firm grasp on them. Through his persistence and faith, Elliot hopes to teach her what it truly means to be in love forever.

"I think that this is by far and away one of Jeff Daniels’ greatest achievements. This play is a poignant comedy that is densely layered, passionate, clever and straight-up funny. But it comes from life, not farce. There is something in this play that everyone can relate to," says Missy Moore, the show’s director.

Much of Daniels’ writing, and the cast’s interpretation, brings to mind a Neil Simon show. The intimate setting of the apartment building, combined with hilarious zingers tempered with sharp characterizations and serious heart, make this production a unique take on the modern philosophical questions of love and faith.

“It is a very unusual script, and a good one,” says Kathleen Davis, Evergreen Players board member. “The cast is superb and strikes the right note of being naturally funny as well as touching. We sometimes were laughing so hard that tears were running down our cheeks, and sometimes listening very intently to the dialogue.”

The show is simultaneously irreverent and thoughtful in its examination of love and faith in the modern age. The surprise ending keeps audiences guessing, and the script raises interesting questions about the possibility — or impossibility — of platonic relationships, and about the faith — religious or otherwise — that it takes to allow someone into your heart.

This show is rated “R” for sexual content. For more information or to order tickets, call 303-674-4934 or visit www.evergreenplayers.org.

Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.

‘Apartment 3A’

The Evergreen Players present “Apartment 3A,” by Jeff Daniels

Directed by Missy Moore

March 21 through April 13; Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., at Center/Stage Theatre, 27608 Fireweed Drive

Tickets: $20 adults, $16 students/seniors. Call 303-674-4934 or visit www.evergreenplayers.org.

Rated R for adult content