Micky Dolenz and Joyce DeWitt Bring Star Power Back to Ivoryton Playhouse
The Ivoryton Playhouse, located in the quaint Connecticut town of Ivoryton, has long been a magnet for thespians and theater fans. Over a century old, the historic playhouse continues to channel the feel and excitement of the glamour and grit of theater in the ‘30s and ‘40s.
The stage where Katharine Hepburn was allowed to “try her wings” in 1931, has welcomed an endless list of legendary theater greats including Tallulah Bankhead, Art Carney, Marlon Brando, Carol Channing, Betty Grable, Dorothy Lamour, Groucho Marx, Mae West, and Mickey Rooney. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to watch the rich Ivoryton tradition continue this fall when the play Comedy Is Hard! made it’s world premiere at the acclaimed venue.
Director/producer Milton Stiefel and Katharine Hepburn in 1931 (Courtesy of Ivoryton Playhouse)
Written by Simpsons writer/producer Mike Reiss, Comedy Is Hard! examines the fascinating and touching relationship between two aging show business veterans who have plenty of guts, wisdom, and humor to share. When retired comic Lou, portrayed by Monkees’ favorite Micky Dolenz meets Kay, a classical actress, played by Three’s Company’s delightful Joyce DeWitt, the couple connect to give audiences an evening of laughter and important life lessons.
The chemistry between Dolenz and DeWitt is palpable, though hardly surprising given that both have extensive theatrical backgrounds. While he excels in keeping the audience in stitches, Dolenz also captures the sadness in family disconnects, the need to recognize our own shortcomings, and the importance of remaining true to yourself. DeWitt masterfully manages to make a hard character likable by bringing the audience into a world where glory days have slipped into sad ones.
Thanks to the writing and comedic style of Mike Reiss and the work of artistic director Jacqueline Hubbard, Comedy Is Hard! captures the nuances of life in a unique way. You’ll smile, laugh, and tear up. And you’ll be sad when it’s time to say “goodbye” to Lou and Kay. That just might be the formula for all great plays.
Performances of Comedy Is Hard! continue through October 12th.
Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, comic and entertainment analyst. The host of the showbiz podcast Whine At 9, Nancy digs a little deeper as she chats with fascinating celebrities and industry insiders. Her book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind can be seen in the feature film Admission starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.