I have a particular affinity for Langhorne Players. Not only have I rarely been disappointed with time spent in their theater, but their dedication to the creative community of Bucks County speaks to my sensibilities.
Langhorne Players is in no way insular. They aren’t a pack of exclusionary “cool kids,” not an Abercrombie & Fitch among them. Each production welcomes a new artist or artisan to show in their lobby. And each new production is open to new actors, crew and directors.Newtown’s Sheldon Zeff will direct the company’s The Kingfisher, which opens May 31. It’s Zeff’s first association with Langhorne Players, but certainly not his first play.
“I was a professional actor in a past life,” Zeff says.
The Glassboro State College theater grad (he refuses to refer to his alma mater as Rowan University) even met his wife during a production of Fiddler on the Roof at (now defunct) Riverfront Dinner Theater, where she played Golda and he was “generic Jew number 3.”
In fact, much of his acting career has been associated with the well loved musical; he’s been in about 10 productions. Kingfisher is quite a different story.
“People don’t know this show,” Zeff says. Langhorne Players is known for selecting new or unusual works. They don’t produce the community theater canon.
The British comedy features three actors of a “certain age,” Scott Fishman, Gail Foulke, and Elliot Simmons. Zeff describes the three as very talented, with a wealth of experience. “They make my job very easy.”
Zeff feels playwright William Douglas-Home had friend and actor Rex Harrison in mind for the lead, a well heeled 70-year-old considering marriage to a newly widowed ex-flame, much to the chagrin of his long-time butler, who “has basically been his ‘wife’ for 13 years.”Zeff says the repartee resembles a verbal boxing match, quick and sharp, amongst people of means. “They don’t want for anything, except love, companionship and romance,” Zeff adds.
As is the goal of all Langhorne Players productions, Zeff wants to provoke conversation. “There are so many things [theater-goers] will relate to: What is your perception of love? What happens when you lose it? Gain it back again?”
He wants theater goers most of all to know “it’s going to be a fun night at the theater. But I want them to talk about it.”
— Jodi Thompson