Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

As a tribute to the screwball romantic comedies of the Depression era, Murphys Creek Theatre will open its 2013 season on Friday with "Rough Crossing," a light-hearted farce in which verbal jousting and linguistic fireworks reign supreme.

Written by Tom Stoppard, the famed dramatist's well-known political and reflective themes give way to absurdist humor and playful ongoing jokes in this popular piece.

The action takes place onboard the "SS Italian Castle," an homage to"The Play at the Castle"by Hungarian dramatist Ferenc Molnár, from which "Rough Crossing" was adapted.

Set in the 1930s aboard an ocean liner bound for New York, this play-within-a-play focuses on two Broadway playwrights toiling to complete a musical and rehearse it before their ship docks.

The "type A" playwright, Sandor Turai (played by Ross Aldrich), is a befuddled and occasionally crafty man who manipulates the other characters to benefit the future of his theater career.

Turai's collaborator, Alex Gal (Stephen Daly) is a sarcastic, sometimes confused man more concerned with what is on the buffet menu than how his play is turning out.

Joining the duo on their way to the Big Apple are the stuttering French composer Adam (Anthony De Page), his fiancée Natasha Navratilova (Cyndie Hoffmann-Klorer), the aging blonde starlet of the unfinished production, and egotistical has-been veteran actor Ivor Fish (Graham S. Green).

Trouble ensues when the playwrights, Turai and Gal, and their composer, Adam, board the ship earlier than expected. They mistakenly eavesdrop on Natasha and Ivor canoodling in her suite, causing Adam to pack his bags to leave in heartbreak.

In an effort to save the couple's love (and his production), Turai decides to write their overheard romantic exchange into his unfinished script, in an effort to convince Adam to stay.

The ship's steward, Dvornichek (Tom Vannucci), has a knack for imbibing other people's liquor and following complicated plot twists better than anyone else onstage.

"Rough Crossing" opens Friday and runs through May 19 at the Black Bart Playhouse at 580 S. Algiers St. in Murphys.

Opening night arrives a week later than previously announced.

Performances will take place at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday matinees will be given at 2 p.m. May 12 and 19.

For tickets and more information call the Murphys Creek Theatre box office at 728-8422, or visit the website,

This production kicks off MCT's 2013 season, a lineup consisting entirely of comedies, including"Much Ado About Nothing"(opening June 20),"The Compleat wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged) [revised]"(opening Aug. 2), and"The Adventures of Robin Hood, A British Panto"(opening Nov. 29).

Season tickets are available for $60, available through the website.