Perhaps all you need to know about the Little Theatre’s new production “Love, Sex, and the IRS” is that special effects creator Art Snow, whose day job is a chemist working for the Navy, has been perfecting “little whiskey bottles you can break over people’s heads without hurting them,” according to Lynn O’Connell, the play’s co-producer.
“Love, Sex and the IRS” is a cotemporary farce set in a Manhattan loft apartment rented by two young men. Jon is an out of work musician who is engaged to marry Kate in a few weeks. But he can’t deduct that on his previous year’s taxes. So in order to make ends meet he claims his roommate Leslie as his wife. The plot begins its acceleration when he learns he has been chosen for an audit. The obvious solution is for Jon to dress Leslie as a woman. But the IRS agent arranges to arrive on the same day that Jon’s mother is coming to his meet her future daughter in law for the first time. She assumes Leslie is Kate. Kate is pursued by the IRS guy. Eventually, everyone is pursuing someone and pursued by someone else.
O’Connell says several hundred people volunteer significant amounts of time to the Little Theatre of Alexandria, doing everything from producing and acting to working on sets, make-up, costumes, lights, sound, and ushering. Thousands more members pay 50 dollars a year and volunteer a little bit. The theatre puts on eight productions a year.
O’Connell explained why she worked with the theatre. “I volunteered with theatre a lot years. What I do at work, what I do at church, its really the same people. But in theater its such a diverse group. It makes me laugh to be with such a different group. Not the cookie-cutter. I’m always learning.”
O’Connell says her favorite moments of the “Love, Sex, and the IRS” revolve around Leslie’s struggles to stay in character. He must pretend to have poor eyesight after telling the IRS agent he has to sign something in the good light of the kitchen in order to lure him into another room. His feet develop bunions form Kate’s tiny shoes. He can only explains why he has to change clothes so often by saying he has hygiene problems.
Despite its racy title, O’Connell wants to assure parents that the play “is a comedy for all ages… its totally appropriate for children. There are some hugs, that’s it, hugs.”
She adds the show, which last about one hour and 40 minutes, reveals the sitcom background of its writers. “This is Three’s Company. It’s the same style of humor.”
Sallyanne Bianchetta, the costume designer, agrees. “It’s a Seinfeld kind of thing. It is in New York. It has a small, male stereotype apartment. And the characters seem bubbly but they all have their little crass moments.”
“Everyone has their own personality: anal mom, IRS guy with his baseball hat on, that nosy guy who wants to know everything about your business. He’s listening very carefully to the people he’s trying to catch… I just think it’s a funny play. It’s light. It’s humorous. It’s got the slapstick elements there and there’s a lot of action. I think that [Leslie] is just hysterical because he’s so unfeminine. He is how we would think a stereotypical person would dress up, with the cold cream and the bad wig… I would go just for the laughs. It would be a good time. My kids want to see it.
“It was a fun show to design,” Bianchetta added. “I see the characters in a different way… Leslie has these cool… alligator fuzzy slippers. We couldn’t get any pink fuzzy ones that he could get into. While she describes the male characters as “kind of nondescript” she says “the girls are trying to have this New York flair. The mom comes in from Chicago so she’s not quite so stylish. More like Barbara Bush, with big beads, but the dress is pink not blue.”
Nathan Tatro plays Jon. “It’s a lot of fun. The plot has so many twists and turns I doubt a sailor could unravel it. I actually feel bad for the audience. Its actually more fun to be in the show than to watch it. There’s so much energy involved. I think of the cast as running a marathon and pulling the audience along for a ride, rickety-rack with no seatbelts, they’ll feel every bump and turn.”
He describes his character as “an out of work musician struggling to make ends meet… a good hearted guy with the best intentions… He screws the government and the government finds out… He propels all the monkey wrenches thrown into the plot… He’s still likeable but you just want to go slap him upside the head and say ‘Why in the world did you do that?’”
Like the rest of the cast and crew and everyone else who participated in Little Theatre productions, Tatro is a volunteer. He manages to squeeze the play into his work as a
full-time doctoral student in psychology at George Mason University. But he says that working on this play and the bonds between the cast members make it worthwhile. “I drive off campus after a day of doing all my research and it’s a relief to go to rehearsals.” It’s a good thing he enjoys rehearsals, because the play requires a lot of practice. “It’s a fast paced play so it’s not enough to know your lines. You got to be fast with them. The timing is everything.”