‘Chapter Two’ coming to Bucks County Playhouse

Mar­sha Ma­son

She starred in the film and was mar­ried to the au­thor of Chapter Two for 10 years.

Today, play­wright and screen­writer Neil Si­mon and act­ress/dir­ect­or Mar­sha Ma­son are no longer hus­band and wife, but Ma­son is dir­ect­ing the play at Bucks County Play­house through June 15, and says she is thrilled to be do­ing so.

Chapter Two, a com­edy about love the second time around, is about George Schneider, a suc­cess­ful writer mourn­ing the re­cent loss of his be­loved wife. When George meets a vi­brant, re­cently di­vorced act­ress, Jen­nie, they be­gin a whirl­wind court­ship that leads to mar­riage. But can George put his memor­ies aside?

Ma­son, a four-time Academy Award nom­in­ee who starred as Jen­nie in the film ver­sion of the play, dir­ects this hil­ari­ous and touch­ing story that asks if you can start a second chapter when you can’t totally let go of the first.

“The play ac­tu­ally fol­lows Neil’s life and mine after his first wife died, ex­cept that there were two girls in the film that were vy­ing for the hero’s at­ten­tion. Even­tu­ally, I starred in the film and in real life, so I’m thrilled to be dir­ect­ing it this time around,” Ma­son said.

Ma­son’s first role, and the one she said that led her in­to this busi­ness, happened when she played a jack-in-the-box dur­ing her fresh­man year in high school.

“We played it for the grade school kids, and when I popped out of the box, all I heard was their oohs and aahs. So from then on, I knew ex­actly what I wanted to do with my life,” she re­called.

And since that real­iz­a­tion, Ma­son has gone on to do stel­lar work on stage, in films and on TV. For ex­ample, on tele­vi­sion, her cred­its in­clude the wildly pop­u­lar Frasi­er, for which she re­ceived an Emmy Award nom­in­a­tion, and the biop­ic Life with Judy Gar­land. Most re­cently, she was cast as Pa­tri­cia Heaton’s moth­er in the ABC com­edy series The Middle.

Her nu­mer­ous theat­er cred­its in­clude work­ing coast to coast from San Fran­cisco’s ACT Theat­er to Broad­way, and even across the pond in Lon­don.

Ma­son, 71, said she en­joys both act­ing and dir­ect­ing. Later in June, she’ll re­turn to the Play­house to act in Ira Lev­in’s Deathtrap. But for now, she’s per­fectly con­tent wear­ing her dir­ect­or’s hat.

“Ob­vi­ously, I know the ma­ter­i­al well and I also know the char­ac­ters well,” she said. “So I can speak with ex­cite­ment as to what it’s all about. I think that helps give the act­ors a sense of se­cur­ity as far as trust­ing me as a dir­ect­or. And as their dir­ect­or, I must ful­fill the ob­lig­a­tion of ar­tic­u­lat­ing all that the play re­quires, and also nudging the act­ors around the stage so they look good. So it’s a no-brain­er, really.”

And when it comes to act­ing, Ma­son said as she’s got­ten older she likes to be chal­lenged pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally.

“So I do look for chal­lenges in the roles that are presen­ted to me, but, of course, at this stage of my life I’m no longer con­sidered a ro­mantic lead, which is un­for­tu­nate.”

Off stage, Ma­son be­came a farm­er in New Mex­ico where she pro­duced or­gan­ic medi­cin­al herbs and flowers that went in­to a line of homeo­path­ic beauty products called Rest­ing in the River. She re­cently sold the farm and said she now feels much like a nomad, ”So, we’ll just see what hap­pens in my next chapter!” she laughed. ••

For in­form­a­tion, call 215-862-2121. 

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