Grove Players to present ‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile’

Among the cast members are April Noel (from left, who plays Germaine), Gary Murphy (Freddie), Tom Rieser (Gaston) and Courtney Elliot (Countess).

DOWNERS GROVE – Science, sex, art and alcohol are all elements of the Steve Martin comedy “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” presented by Grove Players, Downers Grove’s community theater troupe, from May 6 to 15.

Written by the comedian, actor, producer and musician, the philosophical comedy made its debut at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 1993, to impressive reviews. It has been presented numerous times, including by the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble at the McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn some years back, a news release stated.

The premise is clever and imaginative, with a pairing of Picasso at age 23 and Einstein at age 25. Playwright Martin has the two meet at a bar in Montmarte, an arts district of Paris. The bar is called the Lapin Agile, which translates as “nimble rabbit.” There are various themes interwoven into the plot, all discussed in clever and witty ways, with dialogue that ranges from the highbrow to the mundane.

Director Hilly Doyle of Brookfield said he is very excited to direct a play from such a revered comic as Steve Martin.

“Everyone from my generation certainly knows his comedy, but many are not familiar with his tremendous ability as a writer,” Doyle said in the release. “When Grove Players contacted me to direct, I immediately accepted. The pandemic was a challenge at first, as it was for all theaters. However, we who travel in the circles of performance have a way to figure out what needs to be done in order to put on the best show possible for our treasured audience members. It is my distinct hope that we will have done just that. Come laugh and enjoy.”

Actors in the Grove Players production are Michael Surles of Woodridge as Picasso; Thomas Gall of Woodridge as Einstein; and Gary Murphy from Orland Park as Freddie, the bar owner and boyfriend of Germaine, who is played by April Noel from the northwest suburbs. Thomas Rieser of North Aurora portrays Gaston, an old man, and Courtney Elliott of Naperville plays Suzanne, a 19-year-old former lover of Picasso, and also takes on two other, smaller roles.

Additional characters are Picasso’s art dealer Sagot, portrayed by Sandra Gagliano of Glen Ellyn, inventor Schmendiman, played by Sugar Grove’s Peter Lopatin, and the Visitor, enacted by Christopher Cavanaugh.

On the production side are Rusty Steiger of Lemont as producer, Vicki Shargo of Downers Grove as stage manager, Becky Lange of Brookfield handling lighting and costuming, and Ruth Kendal and Georgia Karonis, both of Downers Grove, dealing with props.

“This is a ‘big name’ show,” producer Steiger said in the release. “After all, how many productions can boast having the names Einstein, Picasso and Steve Martin associated with them? The juxtaposition of those three names is just one indication of how intriguing and clever a play this is. Audiences are sure to love it.”

The play opens May 6 and runs for two weekends, ending May 15. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. Sundays in the James Henry Breasted Auditorium on the third floor of Lincoln Center, 935 Maple Ave. in Downers Grove. The auditorium can be accessed by stairs or elevator, and seating is general admission.

The box office opens an hour before the show begins, with the house open half an hour before. Tickets may be purchased online through Brown Paper Tickets. They cost $20 for adults, and $17 for students and seniors. For information, call the box office at 630-415-3682 or visit