'Second Time Around' Explores 'what if'

It's been 22 years since Marion last saw her soul mate Bernard — a married man she thought she could never have.

But fate decides to step in, allowing a chance meeting with her accident-prone former love interest in The Island Players' season opener "Second Time Around."

The comedy, written by British playwright Derek Benfield, opens 8 p.m. todaynight.

Director Gareth Gibbs said the play becomes an endearing and hilarious walk down memory lane between two old lovers that also spurs a series of challenges for the characters and the cast.

For the characters, "Second Time Around" presents the "what if" question of how their former lovers lives could have been if things had worked out differently. and how they ironically find themselves in the same situation after not seeing each other for two decades.

"(Bernard's) torn between the loyalty — the marriage vows perhaps," said Gibbs.

But Marion (Pamela Hopkins) and Bernard (Mike Woodland) aren't the only characters in this story. The two-person cast, who performed on the Island Players' stage together six years ago, will portray all the smaller roles as well.

They said they are up to accomplishing the complicated feat.

"The challenge of creating different characters in one play is so intriguing as an actor," said Hopkins.

Woodland said he couldn't pass up such an interesting story that left him thinking about many questions.

"Especially how does this relationship work," he said.

The comedy has several flashback scenes on key moments in Marion and Bernard's life — the first time they met, how their relationship blossomed, their marriages and their children.

Bernard, a good guy who has a knack for being extremely clumsy, has always tried to do the right thing in life, Woodland said. And Pamela is cautious with her heart this time around, but is overwhelmed by old feelings for Bernard.

"She felt like he was her soul mate but she went on with her life," Gibbs said.

Gibbs — of the Welsh Players in Europe, a troupe that has toured Florida nearly a dozen times — said the audience won't discover how things turn out for the pair until the very end of the show.

"It's her true love," Hopkins said of Pamela. "She's constantly kind of fighting it — should she give into that?"

January Holmes, features writer, can be reached at 745-7057.

What: "Second Time Around"

When: Opens 8 p.m. today; 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 21.

Where: The Island Players, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria

Tickets: $15

Information: 778-5755