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updated: 7/18/2011 10:00 AM

Picasso and Einstein meet in Wheaton Drama production

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  • Sara Malloy, who plays Suzanne, is part of the show's hilarious ensemble. Dave Amato, right, plays the famous artist Pablo Picasso in "Picasso at the Lapin Agile."

       Sara Malloy, who plays Suzanne, is part of the show's hilarious ensemble. Dave Amato, right, plays the famous artist Pablo Picasso in "Picasso at the Lapin Agile."
    Rick Majewski | Staff Photographer

  • Daniel Scobey, left, plays Albert Einstein in the Wheaton Drama production of Steve Martin's comedic satire, "Picasso at the Lapin Agile." The show opens Friday, July 15.

       Daniel Scobey, left, plays Albert Einstein in the Wheaton Drama production of Steve Martin's comedic satire, "Picasso at the Lapin Agile." The show opens Friday, July 15.
    Rick Majewski | Staff Photographer

 
By Megan Bannister
mbannister@dailyherald.com

The premise sounds like the beginning of a corny joke.

"Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein meet in a bar …"

But the results are sure to be sidesplitting when Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" comes this weekend to Wheaton Drama's Playhouse 111.

"It's a wonderful show about discussion and discovery," Director Peter Lemongelli said.

The first-time Wheaton Drama director describes the show, set in a Parisian bar in 1904, as a "little surprise gift to the audience."

"This is probably one of the more unique shows," Lemongelli said. "It is a wonderful mixture of the irreverent and the sublime."

The comedic satire opens Friday, July 15, and continues Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through July 24 at the theater, 111 N. Hale St. Performances begin at 8 p.m. for Friday and Saturday shows and matinees are at 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets, $10, are sold at the Wheaton Drama website, wheatondrama.org, or through the theater's box office.

The play revolves around the fictional meeting of two great men, Picasso and Einstein, in a bar called the Lapin Agile, or Nimble Rabbit. Surrounded by seemingly ordinary individuals, Lemongelli explains, the pair soon realizes that "all souls have the spark of inspiration and love of a particular field of interest," regardless of fame or recognition.

Dave Amato, who plays Picasso, agrees that the show has been an experience filled with discovery.

"Playing Picasso has kind of challenged and stretched me as an actor to be bigger and bolder," Amato said.

Lemongelli believes that the cast of 11 has done an extraordinary job bringing the show together, with only about seven weeks of preparation before opening night.

"In terms of mounting the show, we've really had to rely a lot more on our imagination," Lemongelli said of the minimalist set, expressive costumes and mood-setting lighting.

"It presents a unique challenge because you still need to get all the things you normally would done in a shorter amount of time," Amato said.

The performance promises to show the audience more than an uproarious good time.

"Besides a lot of belly laughs, Picasso and Einstein are marveling at what they might achieve," Lemongelli said.

Keeping with the satire's theme, even the production's seemingly minor players are allowed an opportunity at greatness. Regardless of whether they ever set foot on the stage.

"Maybe the audience might be wondering what they might accomplish in the future," Lemongelli said. "That they are capable of great things just as much as Picasso and Einstein."

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