For its third production of the summer season, Nittany Theatre at the Barn will present “Looking,” starting Tuesday in Boalsburg.
A comedy by Norm Foster, “Looking” stars Laura Ann Saxe, Andrew Saxe, Jocelyn Kotary and John Koch, and is directed by Nittany Theatre Producing Artistic Director Dave Saxe.
Kotary plays a romantically jaded cop named Nina. She is best friends with Val, who is “Looking” to re-enter the dating world post-divorce after an epic dry spell. Nina convinces Val to craft a personal ad on Craigslist and secure a date.
“Val, reluctant to meet a strange man in person, insists that Nina accompany her on the date and make it a double with her prospective love interest, Andy, and his friend, Matt,” Kotary said. “They all arrange to meet up at a bar before going to a concert. Hilarity and unexpected romance ensues.”
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Koch plays Andy, the quintessential lovable loser and socially awkward, middle-aged guy, with a failed marriage and struggling business. Andy is also a hopeless romantic, and his clueless search for love is the trigger that sets off the events of the rest of the play, mixing the two sets of friends together in unexpected ways.
Koch said he usually has to get into his character’s mind and circumstances, and think of how he would respond in each situation.
“For a change, I’m playing someone very similar to myself — the geeky, hopeless romantic, middle-aged part, not the failed marriage/struggling business — so thinking like Andy is not too hard for me,” he said. “Mostly I have to place myself in the lonely guy mode — what would he think, how far would he go to find love?”
Dave Saxe said that one of the reasons they selected “Looking” was to introduce Norm Foster, the Canadian playwright, to Happy Valley audiences. It’s also the first four-person comedy show Nittany Theatre has put on, Saxe said.
“With just four actors, chemistry is important and with this cast we hit gold,” he said.
Kotary thinks that “Looking” is all about the human condition, consciously, in Val and Andy’s case, or sub-consciously, in Nina and Matt’s case.
“It’s seeking out a connection and wanting a partner in crime — someone to go through this world with,” she said. “We are all looking on some level to find the person who ‘gets’ us. Only once we find that person do we stop looking.”
For Koch, a main goal is to make people laugh, but he said there’s other lessons to be learned, too.
“I think one could come away with a few deeper meanings: be yourself, try new things, meet new people, the value of friendship, love can be found in all the ‘wrong’ places,” he said.
Koch hopes the audience will have a good time and a good laugh with “Looking.”
“This is a fantastic show to take a date to — funny, sexy, with a few deep moments thrown in,” he said. “The experience is slightly rocky, ups and downs, misunderstandings and reconciliations, but always aimed at the funny bone. As long as they laugh and enjoy it, I’d consider that a good enough response.”
IF YOU GO
- What: Nittany Theatre at the Barn’s “Looking”
- When: Tuesday-Sept. 2
- Where: Nittany Theatre at the Barn, Boal Estate Drive, Boalsburg
- Info: nittanytheatre.org