Media and beyond is still abuzz in the wake of the recent stage reading of “When Harry Met Sally”, part of the celebration of the Media Film Festival’s 10th Anniversary on April 8th. The gifted cast, comprised of Hollywood talent alongside theater students from West Chester University, skilled regional actors and even a couple of volunteers from the Film Festival Board, joined together to create a lively afternoon of comedy on stage at the historic Media Theatre.
The so-called Live Read is something relatively new and gaining in popularity at major film festivals. “The script reading gave the audience a connection to the story not possible in any other setting. Their facial expressions, reactions to other actors’ lines, the contemplation between lines, even the motion of the turning pages was fascinating,” said Dave Scheivert, Festival Chair. With music stands holding their scripts, the 13 member cast was seated in front of microphones while Mary Beth Rim of Media, who also produced, read the stage directions.
In the starring roles were two Philadelphia born actors who have firmly established themselves in Hollywood. As Sally Albright, the lovely Jessica Barth, who once again displayed her considerable comedic talents, familiar to many from her big screen portrayal of Tami-Lynn McCafferty in the successful TED movie franchise. Barth nailed the iconic “Deli Scene” in which Sally is called upon to vividly and un-self consciously, convince Harry that he may not know quite as much about women as he thinks he does. Barth ably handed off one of the most quoted lines in film history to stage novice Judy Fowler, Director of the Media Arts Council, who got to “have what she’s having”. According to Fowler, “Jessica made it seamless. The cast energy was great. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time.”
Harry Burns, the role made famous by Billy Crystal, was played by Micah Hauptman whose warmth and comic timing reminds us why Nora Ephron’s screenplay is arguably the most endearing rom-com of all time. Hauptman, whose resume includes Iron Man, Everest and Homeland, excelled in delivering Ephron’s fast paced, witty dialogue. He and Barth created undeniable chemistry, and while recognizable as the beloved movie characters we “know”, the pair brought their own style to the roles.
Also worth noting was the nuanced and intelligent performance from Jay Sefton (Grey’s Anatomy, Summerland, The Wire) who played Harry’s best friend Jess, and a brilliant turn by actress Andrea Daniels in the Carrie Fisher role. It was a reunion of sorts for Producer Rim and the 4 leads who all studied Theater at West Chester University which held a reception in their honor on Friday including a Q & A with acting students.
Delaware County’s own John and Karen Rim brought the knowing and affectionate humor that comes along with being married to each other for more than 4 decades as they played several couples who are interviewed documentary-style in the film. Rounding out the cast: Megan Rose, Rachel Holt, Ericka Flanick, Brad Sukala, Brad Thomas and Collin Hadsell. Stage Manager was Courtney Brown. Sound by Tom Richards and Kevin Corcoran.
“After the enthusiastic reaction from our audience, we hope to include plans for another Live Read as part of the program for the 2018 Fest,” said Scheivert. Watch for an announcement at www.mediafilmfestival.org