The Summer Place, Naperville’s community theater, opens its 2014 season with the charming office comedy “The Desk Set.”
With performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays June 13 to 22 at Naperville High School, “The Desk Set” is written by William Marchant and directed by Madeline Franklin of Palatine.
Franklin is the owner and program director of Long Grove Performing Arts Academy and an adjunct faculty member in the continuing education department at Harper College. She’s also on the boards of several theater companies in the area.
“It’s a classic,” she said. “People know the name of it because Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn made a movie of this play. It was one of those fabulous Technicolor movies.”
The play takes place in 1957. Women who worked in offices were called “the desk set.” It was a time when the goal of most women was to quit their jobs, find a husband, have kids and live happily ever after behind a white picket fence, she said.
The play is about a group of girls in the reference department of a television network.
“Each of them has full and rich characters that lend themselves to tremendous humor,” she said. “I told my actors, ‘This is the time that you can steal the show.’ I love working with this cast. The women who are my desk set are experience actresses. They are no strangers to the stage, so they are very comfortable doing comedy.”
“The Desk Set” is unusual in that it is a three-act play that runs nearly 90 minutes plus an intermission.
“I believe the playwright wrote this for a reason. You very rarely find a three-act play now, in modern times, because the audience can’t sit that long. That was when there was very little television. There was some TV, but not a lot. So people went to the theater. So this play has a great storyline; it’s so funny. It’s very crisp and it moves along very well. I want the audience to stay engaged.”
The main character, Bunny Watson, has an encyclopedic knowledge of her environment, and relishes her facts and figures. Everything is fine among “the desk set” until an efficiency expert arrives to computerize the office — but no man or machine is a match for Bunny Watson. Throughout all of this mayhem are the typical office trappings, including a Christmas party and office romances.
It’s a fun yet poignant summer comedy, Franklin said.
“It does have moments of conflict (but) it’s light-hearted, it’s funny,” she said. “There’s dancing, there’s jealousy, there’s the blond bombshell, there’s fear of losing your job. It is filled with fun and intrigue and conflict. It’s a great way to start off the Summer Place Theatre season — with a great play with a lot of laughs.”Tags: theatre