By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — Leon Tolchinsky, the young teacher, is in for a strange adventure when he arrives in the Russian village of Kuyenchikov.
The residents he meets there are on the naive side. That’s a nice way of putting it.
Two centuries ago, their little town was cursed: All residents were doomed to be forgetful and clueless. And it is Leon who holds the key to lifting the curse, starting tonight.
This is a big job, much like the one actor Zachery Moorman took on when he agreed to play the role of Leon in “Fools.” He got the part quite recently for the Neil Simon comedy, running at the Port Angeles Community Playhouse tonight through Dec. 15.
Tristan Geiger had to bow out of the cast of “Fools,” so Moorman, an actor with plentiful experience in community theater, was asked to step in, which he did about a week and a half ago.
Moorman got busy memorizing lines and rehearsing with Port Angeles Community Players director Barbara Frederick, who agrees with him on “Fools’” appeal.
“I was looking for something uplifting and a different type of play than we usually do,” said Frederick.
“I was enchanted by the characters and the story in the first few pages . . . and after you get to know [the town’s] residents, you’ll want to live there.”
This play “speaks to how much we’ve forgotten about simplicity and sincerity,” she said, adding that “Fools” is suitable for children, too.
“It’s a sweet play,” said Moorman. He especially enjoys the moment when Leon meets the Zubritsky family, who don’t know who he is but are tripping over themselves to make him feel welcome.
Frederick acknowledges that “Fools” is not much like Simon’s other comedies, such as “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Odd Couple.”
There’s a story behind this. “Fools” was allegedly written after Simon had gone through a divorce; his ex-wife was to get the profits from his next play. “He tried to write a flop,” Frederick said. Instead, the play endures.
‘“Fools’ is a fable, but it still has Simon’s wit and intelligence,” said the director.
The Port Angeles Community Players production, like many before it, tosses veteran actors together with new faces. Philip Young plays a shepherd named Snetsky; Ross Kavanaugh portrays Slovitch the butcher and Jonas Brown plays the Count Gregor, suitor to Sophia Zubritsky (Makayla Harvey).
Leon, when he meets Sophia, is lovestruck. He must get to know her folks, Dr. Zubritsky (Josh McLean) and Mrs. Lenya Zubritsky (Alicia Smith), along with the other townspeople: Yenchna the vendor (Anneliese Russell), Mishkin the postman (Cody Blevins) and the Magistrate (Martin Gutowski).
Together, they will seek to shake off this old curse, at the Port Angeles Community Playhouse, 1235 E. Lauridsen Blvd. “Fools” curtain times are 7:30 Friday, Saturday and Tuesday nights tonight through
Dec. 14 and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 15.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students and seniors at Odyssey Books, 114 E. Front St., and via PAcommunity
players.com. And as traditional with the Players, Tuesdays are discount nights: Seats may be reserved in advance for $12, and any unsold will go for $6 at the door.
For more details about “Fools” and the playhouse, visit the website above or phone 360-452-6651.