Island Players score another hit

Island Players score another hit
Mark Shoemaker (Herb Tucker), Tahlia Chinault (Libby Tucker) and Diana Shoemaker (Steffy Blondell) take a bow at the close of the Island Players production of Neil Simon’s “I Ought to be in Pictures.” - Jason Schaffer | Sun

ANNA MARIA – For many, the name Neil Simon brings to mind “The Odd Couple” or “Barefoot in the Park,” which are all about the big laughs. Simon’s “I Ought to be in Pictures” – the latest production by the Island Players – is a bit more subdued, even offering moments that brought tears to the eyes of audience members, but rest assured, the laughs are still there.

The story focuses on a completely unmotivated Herb Tucker (Mark Shoemaker), a Hollywood screenwriter who can’t commit to his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Steffy Blondell (Diana Shoemaker), can’t get anything written and doesn’t take the best care of his Hollywood bungalow. Having left his wife and two children 16 years before the story takes place, the last thing Herb was expecting was to have his estranged daughter, Libby (Tahlia Chinault), show up at his front door, but that’s exactly what happens. The only thing Herb seems to be able to do with any modicum of success is care for his orange tree and his beloved lemon tree in his yard; that will soon change.

Libby arrives, saying she wants to be a Hollywood actress, despite her only acting role being an understudy for a minor character in a high school play. She believes her father owes her some connections since he’s “in the business.” As they begin to connect, there are plenty of laughs, and Chinault absolutely nails the role of Libby. While every actor delivered a solid performance, she was without question the star of the show with a near-flawless performance. 

As the story develops, director Kelly Wynn Woodland does a great job of making the characters relatable, peeling back the layers of the onion that are the relationships among the three characters. The true motivation of Libby becomes apparent in the second act, and there are moments that are among the most emotional in recent Island Players memory. 

“I Ought to be in Pictures” runs through Sunday, Nov. 13, with shows Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available at the box office Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or by calling 941-778-5755 during box office hours. Visit the theater website for more information.