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Stage Right's 'Art' offers meaty roles to actors

Male relationships, actor Ricardo Vila-Roger says, are seldom explored in theater.

While there is an abundance of male characters, the Squirrel Hill resident says, men are so often depicted as emotionally unavailable or just unwilling to talk.

"It is often only what male characters don't talk about that gives you insight into their relationships," says the director of Stage Right Community Theatre's "Art," the 1998 Tony Award winner for best play and the 1996 Olivier Award for best comedy.

"In 'Art,' it's both about what is said and not said," Vila-Roger says. "Once the men realize that the argument they are having (over the purchase of an expensive work of abstract art) may very well be the demise of their friendship, they really begin exploring why they became friends in the first place. They think about what keeps them together and if the friendship is worth salvaging."

It provides an interesting and different take on male friendships, says Vila-Roger, whose extensive acting credits include City Theatre and Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre.

This character-driven story is being staged today to Saturday and Feb. 9 to 11 at Boyd Community Center, O'Hara. The cast of three features veteran Stage Right actors Joe Eberle, a stand-up comedian, and Mike Regan, longtime KDKA-TV videographer-editor; and, in his Stage Right debut, Keith Zagorski, founding member of the Bobcat Players Community Theater in Beaver.

Because of adult language, the show is not recommended for children.

Inclusive theme

Playing off the title of the production, the theater will collaborate with local artists to provide an exhibition of artwork prior to each show, says theater president Bill Ivins, who also is an artist.

Ivins, of Indiana Township, says doors will open at 7 p.m. and light refreshments will be provided so that the audience members can mingle and see works from Fox Chapel Area High School and Shady Side Academy students, as well as from members of the Pittsburgh Society of Artists and other groups. A schedule of artists can be found at www.stagerightboyd.org .

"Art" is a great fit for Stage Right, because "it is such a great play, it is very funny, and it has three meaty roles for actors to really sink their teeth into," Vila-Roger says. "People will witness wonderful performances by three talented local actors."

There is not much need to embellish the humor, Eberle says. "If you play the emotion as real as possible, the humor will play out naturally. I call this a 'serious comedy,' " he says.

The Ross resident has worked in several movies filmed in Pittsburgh, including as Russell Crowe's photo double in the "The Next Three Days," as a policeman in Tom Cruise's "One Shot" and as a Civic Arena bartender in the film "She's Out of My League."

In "Art," Eberle plays Yvan (pronounced "Ivan"), whom he describes as "kind of a wuss. ... He's the fun guy of the group, the friend who makes everybody laugh. He uses humor to deflect painful truths about himself. It's like a drug he uses so that he doesn't have to feel his own self-loathing."

Zagorski of Beaver says he was attracted to the opportunity to play "a strong role in a strong show."

He portrays Serge, a doctor who can be quite condescending at times. "I like that he sticks to his beliefs, even when seriously challenged by his best friend," he says. "Plenty of sacred cows get discussed."

For Zagorski, the show is a reminder of how strong relationships can be, even when challenged by serious emotional outbursts. "It makes you think about the real ties that grow a friendship or the silly things that can tear it apart," he says.

"Art" is what Mike Regan of Hampton refers to as "an actors' play. ... That's the kind you know is going to work you out and test what you've got." Regan plays Marc, "whose ego and self absorption know no bounds," he says.

Additional Information:

'Art'

Presented by: Stage Right Community Theatre

When: 8 p.m. today-Saturday; and Feb. 9-11. Doors open at 7 p.m. for art exhibit

Where: Boyd Community Center, 1220 Powers Run Road, O'Hara. Directions at www.stagerightboyd.org

Admission: $14, includes light refreshments; Thursdays are student nights, $5 with student I.D.

Details: 412-228-0566; online purchases at: www.brownpapertickets.com Audience members may bring wine and beer, but no hard spirits. Seating is first-come first-serve; tables can be reserved with paid reservation of six or more.

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