The Brown County Playhouse’s August 2009 show is Noel Coward’s vintage comedy Present Laughter. The production is directed by the Playhouse’s Artistic Director Jonathan Michaelsen. The show boasts a powerful ensemble with three professional actors, an actor from the Bloomington community and Indiana University Master of Fine Arts students.
WFIU’s George Walker talked with the three pros Paul DeBoy, Jenny McKnight and Shannon Koob.
“Paul, you have the plumb role in Present Laughter. The part of Garry was one that Noel Coward wrote for himself. We know that this is art, but what does the part tell us about Coward himself?”
“Well, we have a very insightful, thoroughly professional man of the theatre. He was also a man with a wit so wicked that at one time or another he managed to offend most of his friends. The play certainly focuses on the professional aspects of the man, but also does show off the wit and the humor.”
Jenny McKnight has the burden of playing Garry’s wife, Liz. George Walker asked her about Coward and women. “Jenny, Noel Coward was famous for a certain wicked formality, but I believe there’s evidence that he had real respect for women. Based on your role in Present Laughter what do you think?”
“I think that there’s a lot of reason to believe in his respect for women. Noel Coward portrays Gary’s wife as a confident, smart and very witty woman. She and Garry are expert communicators who clearly know and understand one another both in business and in life. To me Coward’s women are every bit as interesting and as accomplished as his men.”
The third guest from Present Laughter was Shannon Koob. Her character is described as Gary’s “love interest.” George Walker asked her about what made her character an interesting role. “Oh, where to begin. Well, Joanna like everyone else in this show is smart and insightful. She’s manipulative. She uses her sexuality and is always conscious of what she wants. She’s also a women with a sense of fun about it and this gives me a lot of space to work in. It’s a very nice part.”