Two on the aisle

Play explores the joys and frustrations of community theatre

It’s a community theatre play about the people who play in community theatre. The set is the back parking lot of a playhouse, where the stage door opens and closes to provide snippets of the playswithin- a-play premise. There’s also the rear of a party van owned and perhaps occupied by the aging hippie tech guy around which all of the action takes place and the cast of 10 characters express their dreams and hopes, or vent their frustrations about their fellow play actors.

Prince Edward Community Theatre is staging Two on the Aisle, Three in a Van by Mary Lynn Dobson at the Mount Tabor Playhouse in Milford. Director Mike Trites and producer Deb Smith have assembled a cast of veteran actors and newcomers for this fast-paced farcical comedy that takes a light look at the world of community theatre. There is a cast of characters that everyone involved in community theatre will be familiar with. There’s the director who wants to put their own spin on every show, the diva who always wants the leading role, a budding playwright whose enthusiasm far exceeds their talent, the droll veteran who’s seen it all, and the few stalwarts—both on and off stage—who can be relied upon to get the job done.

This will be the first time on stage for Dominic Smith. Last year, on his birthday, he decided he wanted to do something that would get him more involved in the community. He saw the call for auditions for this play and sent an email to the director, half-hoping that his lack of experience would render a quick dismissal. “It was something that I really felt drawn to do, and I took a chance by coming to an audition, and it’s been incredibly fun, and it’s been delightful to work with the rest of the cast,” said Mr. Smith. He said that memorizing his lines has not been terribly onerous, as he naturally has a good memory. His character has a lot of lines in the play. “Fortunately my partner is a very willing co-actor and audience at home, which I feel grateful for,” he adds. He says that the format of a play-within-a-play makes him feel as though he’s meeting two different sets of characters at the same time—his fellow actors and the people they play on stage. At first he felt as though the character that he plays was not too dissimilar from his own personality. “What’s been interesting is that diving into it, you see the differences and they are quite stark. I see my character as the personality road not travelled for me. I’m a pretty decisive, straight to the point kind of person, and Mike is really a little wimpy. He knows what he thinks, but he doesn’t feel the confidence to express it, and I found that divergence to be the most interesting part of the character.”

This play is a complex undertaking for the group. There are many moving parts that have to fit together seamlessly. For example, there are several dozen sound cues that have to come at exactly the right time. With 10 actors, there’s a lot of movement on stage, and many costume changes. The role of the stage manager is to ensure that everything works smoothly. That task has been taken up by Bailey Mulridge. They are no stranger to the stage, having appeared in four previous productions, but this is their first time as stage manager. “I did some back stage work for On Golden Pond and Sweet Delilah Swim Club and I really took a shine to helping out back stage. I spent about six hours just studying this script. I knew there was a lot of props and a lot of costume and set changes. In the early rehearsals I had to write down all the blocking for the actors and keep track of all the props and make sure everyone is supported. My big task is making sure the director’s vision is getting set forth,” they said.

Mr. Smith has thoroughly enjoyed his first foray into the world of community theatre, and recommends anyone to take part. “It’s as much fun as you’ll have. There’s not many chances in adult life where a bunch of people come in and they’re willing to be open and have fun and be vulnerable and combine that with a shared sense of purpose,” he said. Two on the Aisle, Three in a Van will be staged at Mount Tabor Playhouse on April 6, 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m., and on April 7 and 14 at 2 p.m. For tickets and information, please visit

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