Good Doctor: DUHS produced in 2000, Beckwith in first ’90 seasonPublished 8:15am Wednesday, November 11, 2009
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
East meets West Nov. 13-14 as Dowagiac Union High School Drama Club again presents “The Good Doctor,” Neil Simon’s rewrite of Russian playwright Anton Chekov.
The pair would seem to make a dynamic writing duo except there’s more distance between these two “Docs” than Lennon and McCartney by the White Album.
Chekov (Brad Ruminer – Justin Deuel narrated when DUHS last staged the play in 2000) died before Simon’s birth.
The Good Doctor has enjoyed at least two other runs in Dowagiac.
Beckwith Theatre presented it during its inaugural 1990 season.
In 1997, it became Beckwith’s first summer rerun, albeit with a completely different cast influenced not in the least when their parents presented it as the second offering of Dowagiac community theater.
Beckwith has mined Simon for such reliable comedy fare as “The Odd Couple” and “Plaza Suite,” but the playwright was of a different mind when he adapted Chekhov vignettes for the stage and introduced slapstick to 1890s Russia.
The first “Good Doctor” preceded house calls at 100 New York Ave.
That premiere season rotated between dinner theater at Beckwith Inn in the old Elks Temple above Phreddies and Southwestern Michigan College’s stage.
Rich Frantz directed that production, too, featuring Max Sala narrating as Chekhov and a cast ranging in age from 17 to 69 – Rich’s father, Don Frantz of Buchanan.
That’s ancient history to senior Brad Ruminer. Not only was he not yet born, but he’s a late bloomer in theater, which he discovered junior year through Frantz’s drama class.
This is only his third production, after “Our Town” and “My Fair Lady.”
“I’ve always liked acting,” he said, “but I never really tried it. I played football until my sophomore year. And I was in band until this year,” playing trombone. “But I never really found anything I liked until this.”
In “Our Town,” he played Jessica Hargett’s brother, Wally.
As Harry in “My Fair Lady,” Brad was “Isaac Longden’s best friend, the town drunk.”
“I did a lot of research about who Chekhov was” to prepare for his starring role,” Ruminer said.
“I tried to think about what it would be like to be a writer who does nothing else but write. I really don’t know if I could say whether I like him or dislike him. I see myself in his relationship to his father.”
After graduation, “I’m not really sure, like most people,” what he wants to do, although continuing to act is in his plans.
He expects to start at Southwestern Michigan College and “try to find what I want to do. I just want to be well-rounded.”
“It’s been really fun working with this cast,” he said. “They’re all my friends. I went to the auditions and did what Mr. Frantz asked me to do. I was really honored that he believed in me for this.”
How does he memorize all those lines?
“I learn them through osmosis here,” he said. “In my spare time, I run through them in my head.”
Ruminer also expects to find a place in the spring musical.
“It’s my last year, so I want to do as much as I can,” although he readily admits, “I’m not a singer – but I try.”