Theater Review: Artists’ Ensemble’s ‘Rounding Third’—fathers and Little League

By Edith McCauley
Theater Critic

In Artists’ Ensemble’s Rounding Third, Stephen F. Vrtol III and David A. Gingerich are two devoted fathers whose sons are a part of the local Little League team. Playwright Richard Dresser, whose own son played and he coached, gives great authenticity to the play. Vrtol is head coach Don, determined to win at all costs, and his new assistant, Michael, played by Gingerich, firmly believes it is all about “just having fun.” Obviously, their differing goals lead to some hilarious dialogue.

Both actors are on stage throughout the entire play, a challenge to any professional. Their ability to develop the plot and their characters is amazing. Body language adds so much. Like their fathers, the sons mirror the philosophy, and, of course, Don’s boy is the star, and Michael is left to pray that finally his fielder will catch that fly ball.

Both Gingerich and Vrtol actually played Little League—Gingerich third base for Rochelle, and Vrtol third base for Freeport. Their photos in their team uniforms are adorable. As the play develops, the comedy intensifies, and these two actors are the best. As professional sports change, young people are widening their interests, and baseball has been dominated by stars from the Caribbean and even Japan. Little League has lost its luster.

John Cobb, president of the company, and Richard Raether write of the upcoming season and the great progress Artists’ Ensemble has made in seven years. Retaining the fine local actors, Raether has held auditions in Chicago for more than 80 actors in a single day. Brochures for next season are being mailed this week, and it looks like a promising theater experience for us all. Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder’s Gee’s Bend is especially good.

Do try to see Rounding Third, staged at Rockford College’s Clark Arts Center. It plays this coming weekend through May 29. For ticket information, call the box office at (815) 904-2277 or go online at If you can’t get out to the ball game, do see how two amazing actors coach Little League.

From the May 25-31, 2011 issue

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