Rounding Third

As soon as my mom heard Chenango River Theatre’s latest production, “Rounding Third,” had a baseball theme, she was all over me to go. (I’m sure I’ve mentioned a time or twenty, she is quite a fan of the sport she grew up watching at Ebbets Field.) So, when Jeff offered me tickets to the show, I felt compelled to accept.

Not that I ever turn down a chance to visit the Southern Tier’s one and only equity theater, mind you. But knowing I was going to make my darling mother’s day was an added incentive.

There was another person I knew would want to see the show as well: my Aunt Kathleen. She might be an even bigger baseball fan than my mom, if such a thing is even possible. She lives and breathes the Yankees. In fact, if she still wore a habit, it would probably be pinstriped in deference to the Bronx Bombers.

So, on Saturday, the three of us trekked to Greene to catch the 7:30 performance of “Rounding Third.” My mom and Aunt Kathleen’s eyes were lit up like baseball diamonds. But me? I was having a major case of deja vu. See, I spent the previous evening in New Berlin at the grand opening of that new temple to youth baseball, Chobani’s Champions Field. And little league, well, that’s what “Rounding Third” is all about.

Written by Richard Dresser, “Rounding Third” chronicles two little league coaches through the season, from their first pre-practice meeting all the way to the championships. Don (Jack Harris) is a gruff, blue-collar veteran coach who instantly butts heads with Michael (Drew Kahl), his new polar-opposite assistant. Not only does Michael, who Don insists on calling “Mikey,” know little to nothing about the game, but he also has this notion that winning isn’t everything. And for Don, winning IS everything. Well, that and punctuality, which is another concept his new assistant has a hard time grasping.

As the season progresses, the tension between the two builds, but at the same time, the complexity of the two central characters is unveiled as they grapple with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat on the field and in their personal lives.

Harris and Kahl play their roles to perfection with incredible intensity, and the result is a hilariously funny yet incredibly poignant commentary on life as well as baseball.

The show, co-produced by IBM and James and Debra Dyal and directed by CRT’s managing director Bill Lelbach, is one I would definitely recommend. But if you want to see it, you’ll have to act fast - the show’s run ends this Sunday.

Remaining performances are tonight through Saturday at 7:30 and a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. at Chenango River Theatre, 991 State Highway 12, Greene. Ticket prices range from $18 to $22. For tickets, call CRT’s 24-hour reservation line at 656-TIXX (8499).

Next up on the Chenango River Theatre stage is “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” a musical featuring songs by Neil Sedaka.

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