Finding the Humor in “My Old Lady”

There’s a lot that you learn about a script as you move it from the page to the stage, as Darren Sextro, Director of Kansas City Actors Theatre’s coming production of My Old Lady, can attest to.

The script, written by prolific and award-winning playwright Israel Horovitz, centers around failed author Mathias Gold and the residents he discovers in the valuable-but-run-down Parisian apartment he recently inherited from his estranged father. As Sextro and the cast started their work, they discovered that there were many gifts hiding in plain sight.

“This play is actually a LOT funnier than we first thought it was when we read it as an artistic committee, and even when we first read it at our first rehearsal,” says Sextro of growth of the show in just a few short weeks. “The first act especially has all kinds of sly humor, and Horovitz has cleverly structured it to first ally an audience to all three of the characters – often using humor to accomplish that – before dropping some notable bombshells about their circumstances.”

That isn’t to say there weren’t some struggles, as Sextro and the cast worked to figure out the best way to keep the audience on track with the hidden histories of the story’s three characters.

“We’ve definitely identified some vulnerabilities to the storytelling and have been working to shore those up,” Sextro continues. “There are a lot of timeline details to this story, and we’re trying to make sure every revelation is earned without losing an audience in the weeds.”

But the greatest area of concern had been the question of age, especially in a show called My Old Lady. How would Kathleen Warfel, who is noticeably younger than the 92-year-old woman she plays in the show, embody the role of a nonagenarian?

“She has happily been among our least concerns because of how well she prepared,” Sextro says. “Her physicality, her vocal approach, all of it frequently has me looking at her and thinking, ‘This is what concerned us so much going into rehearsals?’”

See the humor they discovered when Kathleen Warfel, Jan Rogge, and David Fritts star in Kansas City Actors Theatre’s production of My Old Lady from January 11th to the 29th at the H&R Block City Stage in historic Union Station. Tickets are available by calling 816-235-6222 or by visiting www.kcactors.org. Find out even more information about the show at www.facebook.com/kcactors.

–Matt Sameck

About The Author: Contributing Writer

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