Theatre Guild’s ‘The Good Doctor’ opening tonight

A scene from the Theatre Guild’s ‘The Good Doctor,’ which opens tonight.

The Morristown Theatre Guild’s newest production brings together two legendary writers, 16 actors and even a whole group of directors for the hilarious comedy “The Good Doctor,” opening this weekend.

The production will be performed at the VFW Auditorium on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. on August 16, 17, 23 and 24 and one matinee performance at 3 p.m., Sunday August 18. Tickets are on sale now at the Guild’s website, theatreguildinc.org and by calling 423-586-9260.

The play was created by one of American theatre’s brightest and best playwrights, Neil Simon, who took 10 short stories by legendary author and playwright Anton Chekov, and made 10 unforgettable episodes loaded with laughter and adventure, longing and loving, and characters from all levels of society.

Sixteen actors take on the wide-ranging characters, and the Guild has added another unique quality to this award-winning show – six different directors, each directing different scenes.

Guild Creative Director David Horton said the Guild wanted to do something special for the 2019 season to commemorate Simon.

“Simon has always been popular, with his rapid wit and one-liners. He was one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century. When he died in 2018 the Guild wanted to do one of his works and ‘The Good Doctor’ was chosen because it highlights the best of Simon as well as the best of Anton Chekhov,” Horton said.

Chekov is one of the most prolific short story writers in the world, and his plays, like “The Cherry Orchard” and “Uncle Vanya,” true classics of the stage.

Why so many directors?

“The Guild has always focused on bringing together the many talented members of our community to offer them artistic opportunities,” Horton said. “Many people have sought a chance to direct with the Guild. This show is a collection of short stories with great humor and characters and it seemed like the perfect work to allow multiple visions to come to life.”

In this production, The Writer, who is played by Larry Bunton, serves as Chekov himself, introducing and narrating each scene. From the beginning, the audience is invited into Chekov’s world and his imagination. The stories tumble out one by one. The tales being told are seeming simple – a mid-level clerk sneezes on the back of his boss’ head and it changes all their lives; in another scene, a woman wreaks havoc at a bank while seeking a tiny amount of money; there’s a trip to a dentist, and in another, a man advises men on how to capture a woman’s heart. None of the tales go as expected, offering great humor and insight into the human condition.

The directors include Horton, Joe Powell, Heather Livesay, Hunter Tinney, Chris Wylie, Emily Livesay and Laura Gula. Their combined collaboration has been a journey of artistic discovery and challenges and all are eager to share their works with audiences for an amazing evening of entertainment.

The cast includes Larry Bunton, Dale Stanton, Teresa Ridgeway, Jeffrey Bevelheimer, Katrina Bosse, Pamela Jo Short, Amanda Simerly, Andy Walters, Hunter Tinney, Eric Collins, Kerri Hale, Andy Walters, Becky Shirley, Buck Allum, Bob Trinklein, Cameron Rick and Alisha Duncan.