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Durang Comedy Explodes with Laughter

The Cast of VSMS in Rehearsal

By Lola Smith, photo by Jessica Lauren

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Thu, Fri, and Sat, Jul 21, 22, and 23, 7:30pm
Thu, Fri, and Sat, Jul 28, 29, and 30, 7:30pm
Sun, Jul 24 and 31, 3pm
San Miguel Playhouse
Calle Independencia 82
US$12 online/200 pesos at box office

As Players Workshop (PW) readies its 129th major production since 1982, I sat down with the show’s director and current president of PW, Michael Gottlieb, to talk about mounting Christopher Durang’s Tony Award-winner for Best Play, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (VSMS).

Players Workshop: So, I don’t even know how many shows you’ve done with Players Workshop. How is this one going?

Michael Gottlieb: It’s about 20 shows now with Players, starting back in 2007. And the Durang is going very well, thank you. It was worth the wait. We’ve been wanting to do this show for a couple years now, and sometimes you have to wait to get the actors you want. PW has a very strong commitment to putting professional quality up on the stage. We have scripts burning holes in our pockets, but we wait for the stars to align to get it right.

PW: Describe VSMS—is it a Chekhov farce?

MG: Definitely not. It’s not any kind of parody of Chekhov. It’s a very modern comedy about life today. At the core, the show is about a brother, sister, and half-sister who have lost touch with themselves and each other and through the course of the play rediscover who they are and what they want. Durang has some very insightful things to say about the modern world and laments the loss of simpler times.

PW: That sounds like a drama. Isn’t this a comedy?

MG: Well comedy is laughing at someone else’s pain. The laugh, and there are a ton of them in true Durang style, come from the characters he’s drawn. Middle-aged brother and half-sister, Vanya and Sonia, live together and drive each other crazy with boredom. Their visiting sister Masha is a full-blown movie star with a 20-something boy-toy in tow, who is always finding a reason to strip down to his shorts. The cleaning lady is a prophetess whom no one believes. And the next door neighbor is a young, beautiful, aspiring actress who makes heads turn and explode at the same time. The dialogue is hilarious, but the characters and the energy between them are what cause the laugh riot.

PW: I have to ask. Your wife, Jill, (By the Waters of Babylon, Enemy) plays Masha the movie star, and I know she and Spike have some hot and heavy romantic action. How do you direct that?

MG: No tongues.

PW: Any last words?

MG: Folks should get tickets for the first week if they can because when word spreads, tickets will go fast for the second. We have a fantastic set, amazing costumes, great actors, a Tony-winning script, and the San Miguel Playhouse has gone through some awesome renovations to enhance the theatrical experience. This is going to be one of the best shows San Miguel theater goers will see here in town, and one that residents should highly recommend to their out-of-town guests.

Purchase advance tickets for $12 online at or 200 pesos in person at our Centro ticket booth on Mesones 57 at Reloj, Mon–Fri, 10am–2pm. Theater box office opens one hour before show time. All seats are reserved.


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