The thing about theater that everyone knows but few talk about is this: Men don’t like to go.

We’re not talking about men who like theater. We’re talking about men whose wives like theater.

They go, because their wives want them to go.

This isn’t a commentary on the patriarchal order, just a plain old-fashioned and unreconstructed observation of la différence.

This is the way it is. Except when it’s not.

Keely Enright, director of Rounding Third and co-founder of the Village Playhouse in Mt. Pleasant, has found a solution to this issue that’s so simple and so elegant, it’s amazing no one thought of it before.

The answer? Sports. Of course!

Not just any sport. Put on a show about baseball. Not just a show about baseball, but a show about two dads trying to be little league baseball coaches, one a win-at-all-costs hard-liner and the other a soft-centered fellow who just wants his kid to have fun.

Turns out, most of the men who go to the Village Playhouse with their wives know what this is like, Enright says. Moreover, they know that both philosophies of sports have things good and bad. The fun comes when the sparks fly, and when the comedy ensues.

“The funniest moments for me are when the dads interact with the team, who are not on stage,” Enright says. “I love the reactions they have to the children. By the end, you feel like you know each and every one of them, even though they aren’t there.”

Pulling this off takes skill. Fortunately, Enright has two great dads in Josh Wilhoit (the hard-liner) and Thomas Heath (whose kid isn’t athletic). Rounding Third opened for the first time last spring at the Playhouse. After that, Wilhoit appeared in PURE Theatre’s The Seafarer and Heath in Enright’s Speed-the-Plow, both the following autumn.

Wilhoit and Heath were perfect from the beginning, Enright says. They make the show.

“The casting choice was a no-brainer. I knew the whole time who I wanted.”

She knew Rounding Third would be an ideal show for Piccolo. She didn’t have time to arrange it last year, but this year when it came time to reprise the play, Enright says she wouldn’t have done it if she couldn’t get Heath and Wilhoit to commit. If she had to replace them, she says, she would have put on a different show. Another no-brainer.

Though it was good the first time, Enright expects it to be better now. The reason is simple: time. With some distance between the opening runs of 2008 and those of 2009, the cast and director have had time to let the characters sink into their bones, she says.

“Besides, we know these characters so well now we won’t have a learning curve,” Enright says. “We’ll be hitting the ground running.”

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