Standing among the seats in the audience, Tom Wilbur bellows out, “You ready?” and the cast begins scrambling to their places.
Wilbur, who is directing the Sampson Community Theatre’s production of “The Odd Couple, Female Version,” is ready to begin one of the final rehearsals, and gathers his cast of eight to begin Act 2, Scene 3.
The majority of Wilbur’s cast is no stranger to the stage. In fact, all of them, except one, have multiple productions on their resumes, including previous showings of “The Odd Couple.”
Curtains will rise on this show Friday night.
Felesia Buczynski, who is reprising her role as Florence Unger, has been involved with acting since she was in middle school.
“Being on the stage actually gives me a few weeks of escaping the real world,” Buczynski shared while taking a break from rehearsals.
Like Buczynski, Erica Miller has made an appearance in numerous performances on the SCT stage. Her first performance was at six years old.
“I can be someone else for a little bit,” Miller said about getting the chance to perform in the comedy.
“The Odd Couple, Female Version” is a mature comedy by Neil Simon. This is the second time Wilbur has taken the play to the Sampson stage in the director’s role.
While the musicals seem to draw a larger crowd, Wilbur says he loves having a hand in the productions that don’t have the singing and dancing to woo the crowd, but, instead provides good, old-fashioned acting that does the trick.
Miller and Buczynski spend five days a week at the theater rehearsing even though they both have jobs during the day.
“It’s something we love to do, and we love doing it with Tom,” Buczynski acknowledged.
Lisa Cain, who plays the role of Mickey, says she is like her castmates, enjoying the time it allows her to get away from reality.
“Being a part of this show gives me a chance to be someone else,” Cain explained.
Between acting and offering a helping hand around the stage, Cain says she has been part of SCT for 16 years.
Jan Rawls, who plays Vera, has been a part of the SCT family for the last seven years, and admits that being on stage is natural for her.
“I started doing plays in high school,” Rawls attested. “I think it’s nice to give people an opportunity to come out and get entertained.”
Playing Renee is Lila Maxwell, who, like Rawls, has been a part of SCT for the last seven years. Maxwell has designed and made costumes for the theater, in addition to roles in Hairspray, Oklahoma, Little Shop of Horrors, Little Women, How to Succeed in Business, Lost on the 4th of July and Cinderella’s Christmas Party.
The only non-female members of the cast are Roger Gonzales, who is in his first performance, and Kirk Hudson, who is a stage veteran and has been performing since 2008.
“I really enjoy doing this,” Hudson said. “It is nice to get a chance to meet new people and it allows me to do something I have always had a passion for doing.”
Hudson invited Gonzales to be a part of the comedy, and the first-timer is glad he did.
“I am completely new to this, but I have to say, I am enjoying it,” Gonzales said.
Performances are scheduled for Oct. 20-21 and 27-28 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 22 and 29 at 2:30 p.m.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.