So when they try to pull you over, shoot ’em in the face, y’all

The first step in any new production is the table read. At the table read, copies of the script are passed out, hands are shaken, cell phone numbers are gathered. The table read gives you a chance to hear the other actors’ voices and see the production designs.

After you’ve done shows for a while, from the vibe at the table read, you know how the show is going to be. Sometimes the actors are arrogant, or the production design is confused, or the scripts are not there. The table read is a harbinger. I pay careful attention to it.

Yesterday I completed the table read for The Deadly Game, by James Yaffe. This period-piece thriller plays at the Long Beach Playhouse from January 4 through February 9, 2008. I’m Howard Trapp, the gregarious American salesman lost in the Alps, your basic flawed protagonist. Stuck in a snowstorm, I come upon a velvet nest of retired European lawyers, who reenact famous trials from history. Eventually I get put on trial for murder. Think noir-type dialog and sweaty courtroom scenes as everyone puts the heat on me.

Two really good things shook out of the table read. First, the other actors in the show are all more experienced than me… and I ain’t that inexperienced. Roly Kerr is the Judge, and also a retired artistic director of Long Beach Playhouse; Daniella Dahmen, a sexy Swedish blonde, is playing the part of the sexy Swedish blonde, i.e. my love interest; Tony Grande is my attorney; and eighty-two year old Murray Rubin has been on every TV show known to mankind, ever. They’ve all had tons of screen time.

Second, this theater is, by four lengths and a tail, the most beautiful theatrical space I’ve ever worked in. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Roly tells me that it’s the oldest continuously operating theater west of the Mississippi.

These good folks seem to have their shit together. I’m really looking forward to this one. Mark your calendars, kids; The Deadly Game is on.

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