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Getting to Know …

Mary Speed

Mary Speed, an Ashburn resident, is the director of Loudoun Theatre Company’s "The Good Doctor" by Neil Simon. The show will run Sept. 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 with shows at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and groups of 15 or more. The show will be at The Carver Center, 200 Willie Palmer Way, Purcellville. Visit www.leesburgtheatre.com.

Explain the premise of the story:

The play is a collection of scenes linked together by "the writer," the stories are based on Anton Chekhov's earlier writing. Chekhov captured the comic and serious sides of the 19th century Russian bourgeoisie and Neil Simon pays tribute to him in this clever comedy.

Why did you choose to direct this play?

I actually directed this play before, about seven years ago with my college theatre group. I thought that this show would be a great fit with the Leesburg Theatre Company. I also performed this play back in high school, where I played "the writer." This play is truly burned into my brain after all these years, but it's also my "lucky penny" show if that makes any sense ….

What were some of the challenges when putting together the play?

Time was not on our side, we had a very tight rehearsal schedule and also some technical glitches that reared their ugly heads over the past few days. Luckily, I have a great cast and some good friends that helped us out in a pinch.

What stands out the most about this production?

The humor and interaction between the characters. All of the actors work really well together and I think we have found a unique interpretation of the show that should be appealing to a broad audience.

What is your favorite character/most-challenging role?

Oh no. You can't make me pick just one! That can get a director in trouble for favoritism ….

What has been your favorite play-related moment (either on stage or backstage)?

We've had a lot of funny moments since we've all started working together, this is an awesome pool of talent — but I would have to say my favorite moment is when we actually moved into the Carver Center and ran the show on the actual stage for the first time. It's very rewarding after rehearsing in libraries and living rooms to finally be in the performance space.

Is there music involved in the play and if so, how does it affect the play? If no music, how does the lack of it change the mood of the play?

We use music as an accessory, it's not the focal point of the play — the lack of prominent music doesn't really effect the humor of the play, but it does serve to highlight specific moments.

Have you ever acted?

I have. I love acting, although more often than not I find myself in the director's chair. However, I think that love of performance fuels my drive to direct and my technical theater background helps keep me grounded and allows me to "MacGyver" an array of production solutions. Can I make a show with duct tape and a pocketknife at this point? Why yes … yes I can.

What do you hope the audience will get out of it?

I hope the audience will get a kick out of these stories and maybe walk away with a favorite or two. We want to make them laugh. And let them see what potential we have as a fledgling theater group.

Have you worked with any of these actors before?

I have worked with most of these actors, some I serve on the board of LTC with, some I have never directed before, others have had to deal with me for more shows than they'd care to remember. One actor was actually in the show I directed seven years ago, but most of them know me from 2004 and forward. I directed LTC's first main stage production in 2005, Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" out at Oatlands and that started my path to meet the cast I'm directing today.

What is the funniest line/situation in the play?

Hmm. Between inexperienced dentistry, paying to see a drowning, ranting defenseless creatures and Ilka the milkmaid, I'm torn! I really have an attachment to all of them. But wait! For those of you offended by the ending of this interview "I hope you inherit five million rubles!"