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Out of the park 

“Take Me Out”
The Weekend Theater
Nov. 3

I was fortunate enough to see Richard Greenberg’s “Take Me Out” on Broadway with its Tony Award-winning cast. But I have to say that I enjoyed the Weekend Theater’s production of “Take Me Out” even more. Their smaller stage conveys both the intimacy and claustrophobia of being on a team and the audience can see the rough edges of even these fine performances.

“Take Me Out” is the story of one season in the life of the Empires, a major league baseball team. One of the team’s stars, Darren Lemming (Jason Wiley), has just come out as a homosexual. His decision to reveal this part of his identity has fallout that everyone in his life must deal with. His best friend, Phillip Shepard (Davey Battle), who is the star player on an opposing team, and an Empires pitcher who is a bit of bigot but also a bit innocent, Shane Mungitt (Jeremy Estill), must deal with especially tragic consequences. You will laugh at Greenberg’s wonderful, smart script and probably weep over the tragedy of it all and the human need to understand the inexplicable.

The entire ensemble cast deserves credit and a rave review and I regret that there is not room to give it. Notable is Max McGehee as Japanese player Takesi Kawabata. The real stars here are Duane Jackson as Mason Marzac, Darren Lemming’s new accountant, also new to baseball, and Jeremy Estill as Shane Mungitt, the team oaf. Jeremy Estill is hilarious and heartbreaking by turns. Never a ham, he is willing to be the butt of the joke but also ready to assert himself and command the stage. Duane Jackson is pitch perfect in this role and steals every scene he is in. Jason Willey, a Weekend Theater and Red Octopus veteran, as Darren Lemming, is both powerful and gracious as a leading man who must constantly step aside for other characters. Be sure to note the fine performances of Byron Taylor as Skippy and Phillip Shepherd as Davey Battle.

It’s been said many times, but perhaps bears repeating: “Take Me Out” is not just about baseball. It is about identity, rituals, teams, gains and losses, control and loss of control. This production is well written, well directed, and well acted. Don’t miss it. The World Series just ended. Maybe the season can last just a little bit longer.

“Take Me Out” continues Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10-11, and Nov. 17-18. Tickets are $14 and $10.

Be forewarned that there are many bare chests and bare bottoms.

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