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Proven play makes a return

Published Dec. 7, 2006

A year and a half ago, American Stage proffered a production of David Auburn's Proof that drew large enthusiastic audiences and prompted impassioned praise from local critics.

This week, in a rare move, the company is reprising that production. Company officials believe it could be the first time American Stage has ever remounted a mainstage production with the entire original cast.

Cast members say they're eager for the chance to revisit the challenging material and to work with colleagues who inspired each other.

"Of course I knew Brian (Shea) before, but it was my first time I had the opportunity to work with Tom Nowicki and Katherine Tanner, and we've since become friends" said Julie Rowe. "There's just so much talent there."

Auburn's play, which won the Pulitzer Prize and just about every other award a play can win, revolves around the emotionally stifled daughter of a legendary mathematician (Tanner and Nowicki, respectively). Although it's essentially a character study, along the way it morphs into a compelling mystery involving the authorship of a ground-breaking equation. Shea plays a grad student who is intrigued by Tanner; Rowe is Nowicki's other daughter, who doesn't share the family obsession with mathematical minutiae.

Despite the scientific milieu, Proof is much more concerned with relationships than with formulae.

"It's a play where all four of the characters are going in different directions," Tanner said. "Then they meet up and they get in each other's way, and they get in their own way. It's just a lovely piece for all four actors."

One small hurdle the cast will have to overcome is the legacy of the last year's film version of Proof, which was disliked by many people who knew the play. The movie drastically changed some characters' ages, added more than a dozen extraneous characters and brought most of the action off of the familial porch, where the entire play takes place.

"That was a real problem for me in the film," Rowe said. "In the play, the porch is almost like a scene partner. It's that integral."



Friday through Dec. 23 at American Stage, 211 Third St. S, St. Petersburg. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. $26-$32. Student rush tickets, 30 minutes before curtain, are $10.

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