‘2 Across’ offers wit, leisure

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
(Photo Contributed) Joe Ouradnik (left) and Jill Young are the only two cast members in the Le Mars Community Theatre’s production of “2 Across.” The show opens Friday, April 21, and runs for two weekends.

LE MARS — Many people like to do crossword puzzles, some asking for help while others insisting on doing it on their own.

A crossword puzzle is the basis for the Le Mars Community Theatre’s production of “2 Across,” which opens Friday, April 21 at the Postal Playhouse.

The show features only two people, Jill Young, playing the role of “She” and Joe Ouradnik, playing “He.”

The play by Jerry Mayer is a comedy of crosswords and romance.

The show centers on two strangers, a man and a woman who board a San Francisco BART train at 4:30 a.m. They’re alone in the car, each is married, and both are doing the New York Times crossword.

She’s an organized, sensible psychologist. He’s a free spirited, unemployed ad exec.

She is a crossword pro, he always quits.

When he tosses his puzzle away, she snaps, “Crosswords are a metaphor for life, those who finish, succeed, those who don’t, fail.” Now he vows to finish. Why? He’s a competitor and she happens to be lovely.

This starts an 80-minute ride described by critics as “hilarious,” “witty,” “romantic,” “poignant,” and “wonderfully entertaining.”

They are two opposites in an enclosed space, attacking each other’s values but also being swayed and intrigued by them. They each have serious life problems that the other helps them solve.

As the train ride ends it’s obvious each of them has been changed for the better.

Richard Buman is the director for this show.

“I knew it would be a challenge, because it’s 90 minutes of just two people on stage without a break,” Buman said.

Ouradnik is a newcomer to the Postal Playhouse stage.

“I have never been on stage ever, anywhere,” he said.

So how did he get the part?

He explained Buman sent him a message about the part.

“I thought about it, came in to read for it and then thought ‘what the heck, I’ll give it a try,’” Ouradnik said.

Young said she tried out because she thought the play was intriguing.

“No scene change, no costume change, you’re on stage and you stay on,” she said. “I like that we’re not having to run back and forth. Sometimes that gets kind of stressful. I didn’t have to worry about clothes. One outfit, that’s it.”

Following their Monday night rehearsal, Ouradnik said some parts felt really good.

“I think we’re ready,” Young said. “We stumble once in a while, but we had a break over the weekend. We’ll get back on track.”

Both Young and Ouradnik like the play, saying the characters are a lot of fun.

Young also commented on working with someone new to the stage.

“It’s been really fun. We’ve seen him blossom, he really has and it’s really showing,” Young said.

“It’s taken a lot of work on their part I think,” Ouradnik said with a nod to Buman and Young.

Buman said he’s very proud of the work the two are doing.

“We’re having a lot of fun. Sometimes when we bring a new person in and we have a big cast, we tend to have a lot of fun around here,” Buman said. “We’re having fun, but it’s really been just the three of us until this week. He’s kind of missing out on part of that experience. But I think it will all come together this week as we get ready to open.”

Adding authenticity to the play is the sound of a train. Seating is borrowed from a Sioux City Transit bus according to Buman.

“I went to San Francisco to record the audio for the play. I recorded the exact trip on the train,” Buman said. “I’m letting them tell the story rather than an elaborate set.”

The play runs for two weekends, April 21-23 and April 27-30.

Friday and Saturday productions are at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.

For reservations, contact the Postal Playhouse at 546-5788 Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We are having a fun time and I think it will show. I think people will have a good time and laugh along with it,” Buman said.

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