NCP Play cast amusingly explores 25-year itch

The Neil Simon play opens Friday.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- New Castle Playhouse is gearing up for laughter, presenting their second show of the summer season. "Last Of The Red Hot Lovers," by Neil Simon will open Friday, and Erica Stickel, of New Castle, is excited to be directing her third show at NCP. She says the play is very funny and raves about her talented cast.
Stickel has a bachelor of arts degree in theater with a concentration in acting, which she earned from Point Park University in Pittsburgh in 2000. She has been involved with NCP about 9 years.
"The play is about a restaurateur, named Barney Cashman, who is going through midlife crisis, and wants to do something about his boring life," Stickel said. "So he decides to have an affair. The problem is that he's been married for 25 years. He wants to do something wild but doesn't know how, and every attempt he makes to seduce a woman goes really wrong. There are three acts in the play, and each features a different woman. They are all such different personalities."
The first one, Elaine Navazio, is played by Kali Davies, who wowed the NCP audiences recently as the dance hall girl, Emily Arden, in "State Fair."
"She meets Barney in his restaurant," Stickel said. "She is straightforward and to the point. The second woman, Bobbi Michele is a free-spirited actress whom Barney meets in the park and has lots of stories to tell about men and situations. She is played by Bergen Reamer. The third woman is Barney's wife's best friend, Jeanette Fisher, whose husband is having an affair. She is very depressed and takes pills." Jeanette is played by Stephanie Holt, another shining star of "State Fair," who played Melissa Frake.
Barney's insight
Barney is played by veteran actor and playwright Brian Lee of Youngstown. He directs at Trumbull New Theater, but this is his first show at NCP. He offers some insight into the characters:
"Barney is 47 years old and owns a seafood restaurant in New York City," Lee said. "He is very conservative, very married, but gets the itch. He realizes his mother's apartment is free once a week when she volunteers at Mount Sinai Hospital."
"Elaine is cold and sarcastic, the total opposite of Barney and she scares him," Lee said. "Bobbi is a pot smoking hippy lunatic. Jeanette comes onto him at a dinner party. The problem is, Barney has everything too well planned out, and that's why it all goes wrong."
Stickel and Lee both agree that this play is "very '60s." "My parents, David and Roseanne, built the set," Stickel said. "There is a convertible couch in lime green paisley, with lots of mushroom d & eacute;cor. The costumes are polyester, and I bought most of them from Goodwill and The Salvation Army. The underlying message of this play is that 'the grass isn't always greener.'"
Lee has been involved with theater for about 20 years. He has written five plays, two of which have won awards. "Night Light" won a best playwriting award from the Ohio Community Theater Association and was performed by the Curtain Players in Westerville, Ohio. "Can You Hear Me?" was performed as a Director's Special at YSU, then TNT, and won an award from the American Association of Community Theaters. He is in the process of starting a murder mystery acting troupe called "Laugh Till You Die Productions," and is working on its first play, "The CEO Killing: Who Died And Made You Boss?" "This play goes beyond funny," Lee said. "The audience won't even care who did it."

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