Exit Laughing Library's Script-in-Hand Series Returns November 24th

For Immediate Release:
October 31, 2013
Contact: Steven Woolfolk
816.701.3698
Exit Laughing Library's Script-in-Hand Series Returns November 24th

Political animosity. Government in chronic gridlock. A lingering economic slowdown. And way too many people out of sorts.

We could all really use a laugh about now.

The Kansas City Public Library and the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre are happy to oblige. Five classics of 20th century stage comedy -- Arsenic and Old Lace, The Odd Couple, The Philadelphia Story, You Can't Take It With You, and Damn Yankees -- will be featured in the next edition of the Script-in-Hand series from November 2013 through May 2014. All performances take place on at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The series is sponsored by Country Club Bank with additional support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Admission to all performances is free.

The MET's Karen Paisley says that unlike some of today's comedies - which she describes as "more lowbrow and less complex" - the classic comedies offered this season rely on carefully crafted plots and sharply drawn characters to generate laughs. There is amusing dialogue, but these playwrights were looking at the big picture, striving to create a well-made play.

"Whenever I direct a period piece, I assume it has something to tell us today," she says. "For example, no matter what the year, the basic truth is that you can't take it with you. That hasn't changed."

The schedule:

Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring
Sunday, November 24, 2013
2 p.m.  
Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Originally conceived as a heavy drama, "Arsenic" evolved into a farcical black comedy about a New York theater critic who discovers his two spinster aunts have been poisoning "unhappy" men and burying them in the basement of their home. A huge hit on Broadway in 1941, it subsequently became a film classic starring Cary Grant. Kesselring based the play's setting on the boarding house where he lived while teaching at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas.

The Odd Couple by Neil Simon
Sunday, February 2, 2014
2 p.m.  
Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Among the most-performed comedies of the 20th century, Neil Simon's 1965 Broadway hit is about two recently divorced men - the slob sportswriter Oscar Madison and the neat, uptight Felix Ungar - who become unlikely roommates in a New York City apartment. The play spawned a hit movie (with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau), a long-running TV series (starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall) and even a stage adaptation that turned Felix and Oscar into women named Florence and Olive.

The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry 
Sunday, March 16, 2014
2 p.m.  
Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.

Barry's 1939 comedy -- about a ditzy socialite whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband and a newspaper reporter - was written specifically for Katharine Hepburn, and became her first great triumph after a number of commercial failures. It subsequently became a hugely popular film starring Hepburn and Cary Grant, and was the source of the musical High Society.

You Can't Take It With You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Sunday, April 13, 2014
2 p.m.  
Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Winner of the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, You Can't Take It With You centers on the Sycamore family, whose members initially seem crazy. After spending a bit of time with these loveable eccentrics, however, audiences conclude that it's the rest of the world that is mad. The plot centers on the Sycamore daughter's betrothal to the son of respectable, stick-in-the-mud parents. Director Frank Capra turned the play into a hit film in 1938.

Damn Yankees by George Abbott, Douglass Wallop, Richard Adler, and Jerry Ross 
Sunday, May 11, 2014
2 p.m.  
Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.

Two American originals - baseball and musical comedy - meet in this 1955 fantasy, which updates the Faustian legend to the modern American baseball diamond. An aging baseball fan sells his soul to the devil in return for newfound youth and the batting skills to lead his home team to victory over the hated New York Yankees. Among the hit tunes from this Tony-winning Best Musical are "(You Gotta Have) Heart" and "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets."

Members of the Friends of the Kansas City Public Library are invited to receptions with cast members following each performance. Receptions are provided by Consentino's Markets. Friends memberships may be purchased at the door.

For more information or to RSVP visit kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.