LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two decades after pretending to be a tourist from Little Rock on a long-running television show about nothing, Jason Alexander has been working in the city this summer, directing a play about something.
“Windfall,” by Scooter Pietsch, examines how five oppressed office workers confront their fear that a colleague intends to steal their share of a $350 million lottery jackpot. The black comedy, in two acts, runs through Sunday night at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
Alexander, 56, co-starred on “Seinfeld,” a situation comedy that ran 1989-98. In 1997’s “Muffin Tops” episode, he pretended to be a hen supervisor for Arkansas-based “Tyler Chicken.” Alexander said in a recent interview with The Associated Press that he recalled the episode, but had no clue about the Little Rock connection.
AP: For full disclosure, my son works with the production team at The Rep. We’ve talked about how, when you make a mistake onstage, you just wince and plow through. How different is that from directing for television?
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Alexander: The audience that the TV show is intended for is not the live audience in the studio. If you screw it up for them, it is inconsequential. … If you make a mistake on that stage, or if something doesn’t play, your television audience will never know.
If you screw up in the theater, it is a very delicate illusion and it is one of the things I love about theater. It is kind of a great big magic trick. People come in and they know that nothing that they’re looking at is real, it’s all bogus, but if everyone does their job well, it creates this illusion that an audience is more than happy to go with.
AP: Does “Windfall” hold up a mirror that most people wouldn’t want to acknowledge?
Alexander: I don’t know that the average person would go to the extremes that these people go to if they felt betrayed. I do think if you put a one-fifth share of $350 million on the table and you ask people to invest beyond their means to get it, and then they think you are holding out on them, it does pose an interesting question.
AP: How do your fans react when they meet you?
Alexander: If there isn’t a table at the restaurant, there’s usually a table at the restaurant. If you cannot get tickets to the show, I can usually get tickets to the show. … If I’m having a day where I really don’t want to interact with people or I’m having a stressful day, I can’t be left alone necessarily. It’s not my choice.
I always say to student actors who want to know about fame and fortune: If you are clearing your nostril with your finger at a red light in your car and I see you, there’s no story: I saw a guy or a girl picking at their nose. If you see me, I’m on TMZ that night: ‘George Costanza’s a nose-picker.’
Follow Kelly P. Kissel on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kisselAP