The power of 'Luv'

The Savannah Community Theatre brings back a favorite comedy

In 'Luv': David Berlin and Kyle Price as Milt and Harry

After more than four decades, Carl Rosengart discovered this unshakeable truth: All you need is Luv.

Rosengart, a neurologist who spent 22 years as the senior vice president of medical affairs for Memorial Medical Center, caught the theater bug upon his arrival in Savannah in 1966.

His first show with the Savannah Little Theatre, in '68, was Murray Schisgal's Luv, a three-person comedy written and first performed on Broadway during the post-beatnik, pre-hippie days of the early ‘60s (Mike Nichols directed the first New York production, and won his second Tony Award for it).

After raising three kids in the downtown area, during his busy-busy years as a full-time medical professional, Rosengart eventually moved the family to the tony environs of The Landings.

And that's when Luv came back into his life. He's directing the Savannah Community Theatre production of Schisgal's play for the next two weekends at The Landings Plantation Club.

Since moving out of the SCT facility on Victory Drive, theater president Tom Coleman has been putting up shows in the Plantation Club for more than a year.

"When I directed Becket at the Little Theatre in 1970," Rosengart explains, "there was a 17-year-old boy who tried out for it, and I cast him. That was Tom Coleman, and it was his first experience in theater.

"He was 17 and I was 37. He blames me for getting him involved in the theater."

Coleman had discovered that a majority of his audiences came from The Landings; when the old location wore out its welcome, he began to take his shows to the audience, rather than the other way around.

Of course, this re-connected him with Rosengart, who hadn't done a play in 10 years or so (although he's no longer in private practice, he's not retired, and still does plenty of "doctor work," as he describes it).

"Tom said ‘Tell me, if you were going to direct a play, what would you direct?'" Rosengart recalls. "And this was the first thing that came to mind."

Although it was made into a Richard Donner-directed film in 1967 (critically reviled, by the way), Luv never made it into the pantheon of fondly-remembered classic comedies. Some say that's because it's reminiscent of the works of Neil Simon, who was enjoying his first flush of mega-success in those days.

"It's hard to put it into a single category, because it is very Neil Simon-esque in terms of the lines," Rosengart says. "It's a black comedy in terms of what's going on. It is also a good bit of farce and a very physical comedy."

In The Landings/SCT production, Kyle Price plays Harry, David Berlin is his old college buddy Milt, and Kathi Pellicione stars as Milt's wife Ellen.

"There are just these three characters in it, each one of which is more miserable than the other," explains Rosengart.
"It appeals on two levels, and either level, really, is hilariously funny. On a very, very simple level, these are three people who are miserable. Harry is a failure, a total slob, and he's borderline suicidal. Milt is very unhappy - he's very, very successful, but he married a woman who he hates, and she won't give him a divorce.

"And the woman is a pseudo-intellectual who's upset because she has the intellect of a man but the body of a woman, and she can't cuddle up to either sex. She's Milt's wife at the beginning, them Milt pawns her off to Harry, who marries her, and then she gets pawned off back to Milt."

Picture this: In Nichols' original Broadway version, the characters were played by Alan Arkin, Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson.

"On another level," Rosengart says, "it is a phenomenal satire of something which was more of an issue in the ‘60s than it is today, but it is still very valid today - the rapture, I guess that's the word, that the avant-garde had for misery.

"They wallowed in their misery. They talked about how miserable each one was, more than the other person. And each one wallowed in the fact that the cause of their misery was totally related to society, to their upbringing, to their parents et cetera."


Where: The Landings Plantation Club, 1 Cottonwood Lane

When: At 7:30 p.m. May 8, 14, 15; at 2 p.m. May 16

Tickets: $17-$27

Reservations: (912) 247-4644




About The Author

Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung was Connect's Arts & Entertainment Editor from May 2009 to August 2014.
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