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Bat boys
Take Me Out is a team effort

Teamwork means everything in Richard Greenberg’s baseball-centric drama Take Me Out, which makes its New England debut next week in a collaborative production by SpeakEasy Stage Company and Boston Theatre Works in association with Broadway in Boston. The hit play concerns a talented and charismatic bi-racial center-fielder, Darren Lemming, who divulges that he’s gay. It’s a gesture that sets off seismic waves of tragic repercussion for his team.

The play won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Play and was a hit on Broadway following a successful run at New York’s Public Theater. "At face value, Take Me Out seems to be about this superstar character who comes out of the closet, but there’s a lot of dominos that fall," explains SpeakEasy artistic director Paul Daigneault, who helms the production. "From my point of view, it’s about how the baseball team is representative of society and America and how one little event can set up a series of events that include community, belonging, racism, and friendship."

For the Boston staging of the high-budget work, collaboration was essential for the two theater companies. BTW artistic director Jason Southerland points out that the troupes share similar artistic missions and a dedication to new work: "Our works tends to be slightly different, but every once in a while, there’s a play that fits both our criteria." Add in the resources of Broadway in Boston and you have something that can be marketed to an audience beyond baseball fanatics. "I’m glad this isn’t playing in October," Southerland laughs. "If you want a baseball audience to see the show, they’re not leaving their living rooms in October."

Mason Marzac is a gay accountant who knows nothing about baseball when he becomes Darren’s money manager and friend. But he has an epiphany when he realizes how democratic the game is. "In baseball, there is no clock," he muses. "What could be more generous than to give everyone all these opportunities and the time to seize them in as well? And with each turn at the plate, there’s the possibility of turning the situation to your favor." For area actor Neil A. Casey, who plays Mason, appearing in Take Me Out harks back to a childhood dream. As a hemophiliac, he wasn’t allowed to play softball. But one summer, he recalls, "I begged my parents to let me play Little League. It was painful, and I think that’s why the part speaks to me so much — I thought, ‘That’s me.’ "

Of his character, Darren, New York actor Ricardo Walker says, "A beautiful part of the play is when he does come out and all the control he’s had he doesn’t have anymore. And all the people around him see there’s a huge dent in his armor. This gives him the human quality he didn’t have before." Walker, a Yankees fan, has been amused by Boston’s passion for the game: "You’re really crazy about the baseball here." And he’s been amazed by a trivia game some of the actors have played at rehearsals: someone will assume a batting stance "used by a player back in the ’50s" and — this being Boston — "the other guys know who it is. But it helps me a lot because it helps me focus on the play and being on the team."

Take Me Out is presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company and Boston Theatre Works in association with Broadway in Boston at the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts April 29 through June 11. Tickets are $35 to $40, $30 to $35 for seniors, $10 student rush; call (617) 933-8600, or visit www.BostonTheatreScene.com

Issue Date: April 22 - 28, 2005
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