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Romantic comedy, with a Neil LaBute twist

January 31, 2008|Charlotte Stoudt

PICK your date wisely; it's going to be a bumpy night. "Some Girl(s)," Neil LaBute's latest salvo in the gender wars, will have its West Coast premiere at the Geffen's Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater Wednesday, under the direction of the playwright himself.

Rehearsals had already begun when actor Scott Wolf (last seen in LaBute's "Fat Pig") had to bow out for personal reasons. LaBute and the Geffen then quickly tapped Mark Feuerstein, giving the actor only two weeks to master a role in which he'd be on stage for the entire play.

But Feuerstein, a Princeton grad, has always been a quick study. His first audition, on a whim during college, was for the explosive lead in Lanford Wilson's "Burn This."

"Acting had always been doing impressions for my father, so I came in [to the audition] as Andrew Dice Clay," he recalls. "I figured, the guy's a tough, so, hey, do the Diceman, right? The director was not impressed."

Feuerstein quickly found his own mojo, though, working on stage everywhere from Broadway to West Hollywood's Coast Playhouse. He's also played parts in "Caroline in the City," "The West Wing," "Good Morning, Miami" and the recent, short-lived "3 lbs." Nicknamed "Chaplin" for his physical dexterity, Feuerstein shared a memorable slapstick scene with Mel Gibson in "What Women Want."

Those three dangerous words could be an alternative title to "Some Girl(s)." The story follows a successful writer -- about to get married -- as he tracks down four very different ex-girlfriends to make amends. Ostensibly. This is a Neil LaBute play, after all.

Feuerstein, 36, married and expecting his second child during the Geffen run, zeroes in on the protagonist's struggle: "The guy sees the women he's been with as different parts of himself. And the reason the specter of marriage hangs so ominously over you is that it begs the question, what part of yourself are you committing to for the rest of your life? What parts are you sloughing off for eternity? That's terrifying."

The unnamed guy of "Some Girl(s)" has been played by well-known funny men -- David Schwimmer of "Friends" and "Will & Grace's" Eric McCormack -- but LaBute says Feuerstein gives the role "a completely different read. . . . It's nice to see somebody who, if I have an impulse that's dark, will move in that direction.

"With Mark, I see the character in the room, not the actor. He's not worried what the audience will think of him. He's a very kindred spirit."

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theguide@latimes.com

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'SOME GIRL(S)'

WHERE: The Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 LeConte Ave., Westwood

WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Wed. Runs 8 p.m. Tue.-Thu., 7:30 p.m. Fri., 3:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Sat., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sun. Ends March 9.

PRICE: $35-$74

INFO: (310) 208-5454; www.geffenplayhouse.com

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