Fairbanks Drama Association prepares first mainstage show since COVID-19

To open their new season, Fairbanks Drama Association has chosen “Laughter on the 23rd Floor”,...
To open their new season, Fairbanks Drama Association has chosen “Laughter on the 23rd Floor”, a comedy by Neil Simon that has never seen the stage in Fairbanks before.(Garrett Wilson/KTVF)
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 4:58 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In March 2020, the Fairbanks Drama Association (FDA) cancelled its spring show, “You Can’t Take It With You,” due to COVID-19.

Two and a half years later, the theater is once again ready to open its doors for a mainstage production. Director Bill Wright explained, “Every new thing that we do after two and a half years of being shut down is like learning it all over again.”

To open their new season, the theater has chosen “Laughter on the 23rd Floor”, a comedy by Neil Simon that has never seen the stage in Fairbanks before.

In the show, actor Glenner Anderson plays Max Prince. He said, “We tried to get them to do it for a very long time, and said ‘Look, we have to do this Neil Simon comedy about a bunch of comedy writers.’”

Jerry Evans, who plays Milt Fields, was also part of that effort. “As soon as I found out they were going to do it, I just jumped on the opportunity,” he said.

Auditions took place in July, and for nearly two months volunteers have been working to bring the play to life. “The entire process of theater is amazing. It comes and goes. It’s like ice art, or things that you only see for a short period of time and then they melt away and they’re just a distant past,” Wright said.

The actors bring a variety of experience levels to the table. According to Wright, “Some have really rarely been on the stage, and others are kind of like seasoned veterans.”

Anderson called himself the rookie in the cast. “I did theater once in high school, in maybe ‘79.”

Meanwhile, Evans said, “This is my third time with a production, all of them with FDA.”

The whole group must be on their A-Game to pull off a production like this. “I started highlighting my lines and realizing ‘Oh my god, I have to memorize all this?’” Anderson said.

Evans said, “It’s great because the play is about a group of comedy writers and a lot of the people involved in the play actually do comedy and do radio and that kind of stuff, and so everybody’s just kind of tweaking and amping their personalities just a bit.”

Eventually things start to click during the rehearsal process. Anderson said of the play, “It’s quick. It’s fast-paced. It’s well-written, and it’s bam bam bam, and it’s going to be a very enjoyable play.”

The show opens on Friday, September 16, and runs for three weekends. More information can be found at the Fairbanks Drama Association website.