When they first took a close look at "God of Carnage," Joe Fava and Cristine Loffredo, two theater people synonymous with the Schenectady Civic Players, had some issues with the 2009 Tony Award winner.
"It sounds crazy, but when I first read it I wasn't in love with it," said Loffredo, a Saratoga Springs resident and a regular at the Schenectady Civic Playhouse as well as Curtain Call Theatre in Latham. "We hadn't had a lot of rehearsals, but then it started to click and then just the other night we had a lot of fun. Everybody really knows their lines now, and once that book was out of your hands and you were able to play off another person, I really started liking it."
One reason Loffredo jumped into the role was because Fava, who has directed more than 30 shows at the Schenectady Civic Playhouse, asked her. "God of Carnage," translated into English from Yasmina Reza's French play, begins Friday at SCP and runs through May 12.
"Joe told me it was a great play and he's wanted me to do it for a while," said Loffredo, who added that SCP production manager Don Mealy was also pushing the show. "I said I would do it, but at first I was only OK with doing it. Now I'm having a great time working on it."
Fava, too, had some doubts when he started thinking about putting the play on the SCP schedule.
"I think it's a very intelligent play that's obviously written very well, but there's a great deal of subtlety to it and you really have to work at it to bring out the comedy," said Fava. "It's a difficult play to direct because you have to find all the spots that are comedic and build on them properly. It's a challenge, but I'm enjoying that challenge."
"God of Carnage" was first produced in Germany in 2006 and France in 2008 before Hampton's English version came to the Broadway stage in 2009. It earned five Tony Award nominations and won three, including Best Play. The story centers around two sets of parents who meet to discuss some trouble between their children. Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden starred in the Broadway production, while Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet earned Golden Globe nominations for their performance in the 2011 Hollywood film.
Loffredo hasn't seen a stage production of "God of Carnage" or the movie, but Fava has seen both versions.
"I saw a Shakespeare & Company production about two years ago and I loved it," he said. "The movie I did not like that much. They actors did a great job, but I felt it was poorly directed. I think the movie totally missed the point. It was over-dramatic and not funny."
Joining Loffredo on stage are Marty O'Connor, J.J. Paul and Knathan MacKenzie-Roy.
SLOC presents '42nd Street'
If musical theater is more what you're looking for this weekend, then the place to be is the Schenectady Light Opera Company, where Suzanne Rayome is directing a production of "42nd Street."
Rayome, who has already directed "The Producers," "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and "Hello Dolly!" at SLOC, is working with a cast that includes Melissa Mason Lacijan as Dorothy Brock, Christine Meglino as Peggy Sawyer and James Alexander as Julian Marsh.
With lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Harry Warren, "42nd Street" tells the story of a strong-willed director trying to mount an extravagant musical production on Broadway during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The stage musical is based on the 1933 Hollywood film and the 1932 novel by Bradford Reeves. The musical was produced on Broadway in 1980 starring Tammy Grimes and Jerry Orbach, and earned eight Tony Award nominations and won two, including Best Musical.
'God of Carnage'
WHERE: Schenectady Civic Playhouse, 12 South Church St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through May 12; performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $20
MORE INFO: Call (518) 382-2081 or visit www.civicplayers.org
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through May 12; performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $28-$22
MORE INFO: Call (518) 730-7370 or visit www.sloctheater.org