Tybee residents can relax. The man in the silver car isn’t a madman or a terrorist. The normally mild-mannered Rod McAdams is yelling and gesturing wildly to prepare for his role in the comedic play, Squabbles.
“My husband likes to get in his Honda and drive around Tybee to practice his lines,” McAdams’ wife, Linda, says. “If anybody sees him flinging his arms around, don’t worry. He’s just rehearsing.”
Squabbles is being presented by the Tybee Arts Performing Society (TAPS) Feb. 29 and March 1 and 2. It was written by Marshall Karp and tells the story of a happy young couple, Jerry and Alice Sloan. They have opened their home to Alice’s father, Abe Dreyfuss, a true curmudgeon, played by McAdams.
“He’s a grouchy old man,” McAdams says. “But he has a heart of gold.”
Jerry’s mother, Mildred, is left homeless when her house burns down. What else can the Sloans do but invite her to stay with them as well?
Carol Ingham is directing the play. “It’s really adorable and so well written. These are two old people who don’t like each other. It’s one funny fight after another. These two senior citizens can really get at it.”
Their poor children are caught in the middle. Jerry is played by Arnie Correa.
“Abe and Mildred haven’t gotten along from the day of the wedding,” Correa says. “He says she attacked him with a cake cutter. It became a big squabble.”
Now there are constant squabbles in the Sloan household. “When Alice informs Jerry that she’s pregnant, they decide they want the parents to move out,” Correa says.
But there’s a problem. “He doesn’t want to leave and she doesn’t want to leave,” Ingham says. “What are they going to do? Someone’s got to leave. Who’s going to leave first?”
It’s time to bury the hatchet, or cake cutter, in this case – or else. “
Some of the characters are played just for laughs. There’s the German nanny hired after the baby is born, and Hector, the humorous but wise gardener. “He comes over to do the yardwork, but he can never do it because of all the squabbling,” Ingham says.
“All these characters come in and out of the scenes,” Correa says. “It’s a constant, hilarious squabble until the very last scene.”
Everyone who knows McAdams says he’s nothing at all like his character, Abe. “He’s my alter ego, I guess,” McAdams says.
“I teach at Armstrong, so I go into character when I teach. I also practice on my way home from Armstrong. I’m not sure that’s a good idea because it’s not very safe.”
McAdams is a professor in health administration at Armstrong Atlantic State University. “I was originally a theater major in college,” he says.
Correa has been in several TAPS productions. “It’s just a small community theater,” he says. “But it really gets a lot of folks to come out.”
As with previous TAPS productions, Squabbles is localized.
“The play takes place in New Jersey during a snowstorm, but we make it Tybee with rain,” Correa says.
The play is so funny, cast members have trouble keeping a straight face during rehearsals. “I think Carol’s done a good job casting it,” Correa says. “It has us laughing just to hear the lines.”
This may be the last TAPS production to be presented at the old Tybee school cafeteria. The next production will be presented at the Tybee Pier, and after that, TAPS is getting a space of its own.
“Now we’ve got the old teen center,” Ingham says. “Before that, it was a fire station. It has a room that would make a perfect black box theater, so we’re very excited.”
Squabbles is presented Feb. 29 and March 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Black Box Theater, (the Old School Cafeteria) on Fifth Street off Butler. Doors open at 7 p.m. Food and drinks available. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at Gallery by the Sea, 802 First St., or online at www.tybeearts.org. Tickets also available at the door.
• Rod McAdams, who plays Abe, and Leigh Rich, who plays Alice, are both professors at Armstrong Atlantic State University.
• Arnie Correia, who plays Jerry, is a pharmacist.
• Playwright Marshall Karp was an advertising executive who wrote commercials for Coca-Cola, Stroeh’s Beer and Gillette, and created the classic “Thank You, Paine Webber” ad campaign.
• In 1987, four years after writing Squabbles, Karp wrote and produced a CBS comedy, Everything’s Relative, that starred Jason Alexander.
• Up next for TAPS is Best Little Whorehouse in Texas on April 4, 5 and 6.