Theatre UCF opens Steve Martin’s laugh-out-loud comedy The Underpants on Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Black Box Theater on the UCF campus. The play will run through October 5.
The play focuses on the human spirit of curiosity and how a small bit of impropriety can cause the biggest scandal. When Theo Maske’s wife, Louise, has an accidental slip of her underpants in public, her respectable husband decides to keep her hidden from public view in hopes of avoiding any further scandal. His plan starts to crumble as witnesses of the event decide that they want to see a little bit more.
A story originally written by playwright Carl Sternheim, The Underpants was adapted by comedian Steve Martin.
“There is a line in the play that says, ‘Never underestimate the power of a glimpse of lingerie.’ It is probably just as true now as it was when the play was first written,” said director Kate Ingram. “It’s about the voyeuristic tendencies of people, that they like to peek. People may not like it, but it’s true and it may just be a source of power.
“Though it is a play written in 1910 Germany, Steve Martin adapted it, so it feels very modern and contemporary, set in 1910 Germany right before the first World War. One might think it would be dark humor but it’s not bleak—it’s quite funny. It’s silly and funny with a lot of socio-political humor thrown in.”
Leading the troupe of actors taking on this comedy is second year MFA student Jeff Nathan, playing the role of the curmudgeonly Theo Maske. In addition to being cast as a lead in The Underpants, Nathan is balancing his responsibilities as a graduate student while raising his newborn daughter with his wife.
Of his many time commitments Nathan said, “It’s a challenge to be able to balance being a first-year teacher and being able to take a full course load of grad classes, and also to be cast in a show and also to have a baby, but all in all I chose this career path knowing that grad school was an exhausting yet fantastic journey that I hoped to take.”
Nathan is one of two graduate students that are a part of the cast, the other being Ryan M. Skiles, who is portraying the role of Klinglehoff. Having the two graduate students as part of the cast brings a role of mentoring into rehearsals.
Olivia Grace Murphy, a senior in the BFA Acting class, portrays the role of Louise, Theo’s scandal-causing wife. For an undergraduate student, the opportunity to act alongside graduate students has brought about its own lessons, she said
“The graduate students are a joy to work with. It’s refreshing to work with them on stage,” she said. “Both Jeff and Ryan have been out in the real world and have so many different life experiences that they can bring to the situation. I really enjoy having the chance to work with actors of varying levels of experience.”
Rounding out the cast are Courtney Kaye Kirby (Gertrude Deuter), Jesse Hinton (Frank Versati), and Daniel Annone (Benjamin Cohen).
Production at a glance
By Steve Martin
Adapted from Carl Sternheim
Directed by Kate Ingram
8 p.m.: Sept. 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28
Oct. 3, 4, 5
2 p.m.: Sept. 22, 29
UCF Black Box Theater
Price: Standard $20, Senior $18, Student $10; group discounts available
Box Office Phone: 407- 823-1500
Box Office Hours: Monday through Friday: noon to 6 p.m. and two hours before performances