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Up close with 'Personals'

Musical revue opens today at Old Opera House

Musical revue opens today at Old Opera House

May 10, 2007|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Directing the musical revue "Personals" was supposed to be easy, Director David Porterfield said.

The production only calls for six actors, and its creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane - the same writing team behind the '90s sitcom "Friends" - gave it a straightforward story line: Following lonely singles searching for The One in newspaper personals during the '80s.

But the show's opener tonight at the Old Opera House is the culmination of two months crammed with work.

Porterfield said he realized during preparation for the production that he is dealing with a "deceptively simple" production.

Not only would there be several prop and costume changes, but the production calls for the actors to play multiple but minor roles in addition to their principal characters, meaning he needed to cast seasoned actors who could sing the show's original songs.

"Casting this show was a challenge," Porterfield said. "We needed strong singers who could do six-part harmony and could also be adaptable actors. ... They must be able to go in and out of different characters very quickly."


Luckily, he found those six actors at a single audition in March.

"I couldn't be more thankful for this cast," he said.

Back in wardrobe, several cast members chuckled over the '80s-era clothes as they prepared for rehearsal Friday night.

"We're back here flashing back," said David Ryan, as he held up a pair of brown leather pants. Ryan, 42, of Inwood, plays Sam, one of the lonely hearts searching for love.

Kim Herman, 41, of Martinsburg, plays Kim, a recently divorced woman who's back on the dating scene. While Herman is married, she said she could relate to her character's troubles with dating.

"There's really a universal message," Herman said. "Anyone who's been on a first date or has had a bad date can relate to this play."

With showtime nearing, Porterfield is confident there'll be a smooth run, but he hopes that the audience will appreciate the play's complexity.

"I like shows that have a bite to them," Porterfield said. "I don't want audiences to walk away thinking, 'Oh, that was nice.' I want them to be laughing so hard their stomachs hurt, but I also want to give them something to think about."

If you go ...

WHAT: "Personals"

WHEN: The show opens tonight and runs through Sunday, May 20. Showtimes are 7:30 tonight and Thursday, May 17; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 2:30 p.m. Sundays.

WHERE: Old Opera House, 204 N. George St., Charles Town, W.Va.

COST: $8 to $16.

MORE: For information, go to, or call 304-725-4420.

Cast list

The six actors take on multiple, minor roles throughout the play. Listed below are their principal roles:

Sam - David Ryan

Kim - Kim Herman

Claire - Laura Speis

Louis - D.C. Cathro

Louise - Maria Boyce

Typesetter - Steven Brewer

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