Morgan Wixson Plays It Again

Allan (David Lengel) is torn between the advice of ex-wife Nancy (J.C. Wendel) and idol Humphrey Bogart (Jack Winnick) in “Play It Again, Sam.”

Forty-some years ago, in 1969, Play It Again, Sam had a successful run on Broadway, followed by its enormous screen success, right up there with Woody Allen faves, such as Sleeper, Interiors, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Zelig, and Annie Hall, to name a few. Now, this classic “plays again” at the Morgan Wixson Theatre, with its universal words of wisdom and hints of humor. Everything Woody Allen has written, directed, and/or starred in is a masterpiece — it seems his whole lifetime is spent gathering material!

Woody Allen is an iconic figure in both stage and screenplay. Play It Again, Sam features David Lengel as Allan Felix, the rim-glassed, quintessential nebbish, always in love with crazy, voluptuous females with so many layers and dimensions. The play’s fantasy scenes and dream sequences, portraying the main character’s “dream girls,” are quite effective in showing how the little nerdy guy always breaks the stereotype by getting the girl he pursues. The only problem: She, too, has got a lot of baggage.

Woody Allen, amidst all his own angst, is almost like an analyst himself: so tapped into the inner sanctum of human beings and their psyches.

Audiences of all generations love his material, as he writes so close to peoples’ real experiences of love, loss, and emotional trauma.

Play it Again, Sam is also a tribute to the old-time movies and beloved classics, like Casablanca, with Bogart, the great figure that he was, guiding and mentoring Felix in his love-life pursuits. Woody Allen’s latest, Midnight in Paris, is his 7th highest grossing film, with a plot steeped in history and literature — revisiting classic greats like Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.

While Neil Simon and Woody Allen share much in common, with choice of material, subject matter, and neurotic caricatures, the similarity ends there: Woody Allen is the master of symbolism — with his writing not so much stream-of-consciousness, but rather a story filled with strong character development and symbolic overtones, adhering to the motto, “To thine own self be true.”

As Felix Allan states himself, in his search for the perfect lover, or albeit platonic friend: “Not many women are deep enough to know what I’m all about.”

Play It Again, Sam runs through Feb. 12 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Morgan Wixson Theatre located at 2627 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica. For tickets, call (310) 828-7519 or visit www.morgan-wixson.org.


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