Rehearsals are now underway for the spring play “Jake’s Women” by Neil Simon.
The cast of one man and eight women have become very close during the process.
“The rehearsal process has been fun, if not a little emotionally taxing at times,” said Malia Ogden, who plays Maggie in the cast. “With this small cast and crew, I really feel like we have become quite tight, friends working toward a common goal.”
The goal is to showcase Jake, a man who is on the brink of insanity because he can’t seem to grow up in spite of or because of the relationships he has with various women.
“This show is different on an actor’s level,” said Walter Ruskin, who plays Jake. “The motives of the other characters primarily come from Jake since he is making them talk to him in his own mind.”
Some of the scenes are “imagined” by Jake and take place in his mind.
“The play is 80 percent in the mind of Jake and 20 percent in real time in his Soho loft in New York,” said Mark McQuown, director of the show. “We tried to create a very minimal but highly realistic, small set so the acting would be emphasized.” The actors have been striving to convey Simon’s characters in a convincing manner while learning about themselves in the process.
“While I was thrilled to be cast, portraying Maggie has been a struggle at times,” Ogden said. “There are parts of her that I identify with so strongly that I feel completely at home up on the stage, and then there are other times where I have to fight through a scene where ‘she’ is mentally difficult for me to grasp.”
The various women enter Jake’s life to help him overcome his issues and not only let go of his late wife but also to resolve the problems with his current wife.
Because everyone can relate to problems in relationships, cast members note that they took great pains to portray the characters like ordinary people.
“Theater touches different people in different ways at different times,” Ogden said. “Some people will recognize pieces of themselves in the characters of ‘Jake’s Women.”
McQuown agrees that the problems addressed in “Jake’s Women” are relevant to society.
“This is a universal problem as far as I am concerned and along with this unusual subject matter comes the fact that [Simon] tells us this story with such great comedy,” McQuown said. “If you want to see a witty, funny and often dramatic story which probably represents most of Neil Simon’s real life, come and see ‘Jake’s Women.”
“Jake’s Women” will run in the McKinney Apr. 11-20. Tickets are $12/general, $11/students and seniors.