It's the "lousiest dive in Frisco" according to Nick the proprietor and bartender, and it's the scene for the Panhandle Players’ upcoming production of “The Time of Your Life.”
The Pulitzer Prize winning drama by William Saroyan, directed by Tom Loughridge, will be performed at Apalachicola’s historic Chapman Auditorium, Friday and Saturday evening, Feb. 10 and 11, and Sunday afternoon, Feb. 12.
Set in a run down, Depression-era waterfront cabaret, namely the "Pacific Street Saloon, Restaurant, and Entertainment Palace," the action offers juke box music, dancing, and a piano player tickling the ivories for the down-and-out denizens, working stiffs, and slumming upper-crust of San Francisco who come through its doors to find hope, love and second chances along with their beer, wine, and double Scotches. They each have a tale to tell, and each are uplifted by, and find solace in one another.
In 1940, the play won both the 1940 New York Drama Critics Circle Award and Pulitzer Prize for drama. It has played on Broadway three times, has been adapted for film starring James Cagney, and for the Playhouse 90 live television series starring Jackie Gleason and Jack Klugman. The play was revived in 1972 at the Huntington Hartford Theatre in Los Angeles where Henry Fonda and Richard Dreyfuss played leading roles.
The play's theme is best expressed by Saroyan himself, who wrote that "In the time of your life, live - so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.”
Loughridge has wanted to direct “The Time of Your Life” for a very long time. At Ohio's Denison Summer Theatre in 1949, he saw the show staged in a tent theatre where "June bugs flew in front of the lights and crickets could be heard outside." At age 14, it was his first experience seeing a stage play and he was hooked. Twenty-six years later, he appeared as the Kit Carson character in The Colorado West Players’ production of the play.
And now, in 2017, with the assistance of Liz Sisung, he has gathered an ensemble cast from Franklin and Gulf counties to play 23 idiosyncratic characters in this Panhandle Players’ production.
Joe, the main character, is played by Frederick Kahler, and Kitty, the female lead, is played by Megan Shiver. They will be joined by River Sheridan, Laura Ward, Hank Kozlowsky, Jeff Ilardi, Scott Wilson, Greg Riley, James Hatfield, Jo Ellen Pearman, Barry Hand, Carole Brazsky, David Adlerstein, Doug Rauscher, Peter Bearse, Bob Caiola, Jeana Crozier, Joan Matey, Maria Nichols, and Lydia Countryman.
Performance dates are Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10 and 11 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15, and may be purchased on line at panhandleplayers.com, click on "Tickets," or https://panhandle-players.ticketleap.com, or at the door.