By Matt Werner Times Sentinel Writer
Zionsville Times Sentinel
Zionsville physician Larry Adams has taken the saying “laughter is the best medicine” to a different level.
The family practitioner has written and will star in his own comedic play, “The Dealer Smiles,” during IndyFringe, an annual theater festival in Indianapolis.
The Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival is a 11-day theater event in the Mass Ave Cultural District in downtown Indianapolis. The festival began in Indianapolis eight years ago and includes eight different venues, 64 performing groups and 384 performances. “The Dealer Smiles” will be performed at 6 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Theatre on the Square Stage II.
Adams started acting in a community theater 24 years ago after seeing his mom, Jean, take up acting.
“I saw a couple of her shows, and she seemed to really enjoy it,” he said. “I thought I’d give it a shot, and I’ve loved it ever since.”
After acting for many years, Adams wanted to try to write a play by combining his interests in theology, philosophy and historical research with his passion for theater.
“It started out as a drama trying to find a way to express ideas of philosophy and faith,” he said. “After working on it for a while, I realized it was really pretty dry and not all that interesting. That was when I switched it to a comedy because I figured that was a way to talk about different topics and make them enjoyable to watch.”
The play, which features Adams as the lead role, Matt, is about a man going through a divorce.
“His situation is the framework for the play, but he starts having different ideas and encounters involving faith and spirituality,” Adams said. “None of those things go in depth, but they are brought up and dealt with in a comedic manner.”
Adams said while he loves acting, he really enjoyed writing “The Dealer Smiles.”
“Before I finished, I really thought I would enjoy acting more than writing,” he said. “Acting is a lot easier because writing can sometimes be like pulling teeth. At the end, though, I really like being able to see what I’ve created and what characters I’ve developed. It’s really neat to think that you’ve created something.”
Adams asked an old acting friend, Jaime Johnson, to also be in the play.
“When he was writing, the longer he wrote the character, the more he kept hearing my voice coming through as he was hammering it out,” Johnson said. “Once he put my face to it and my mannerisms and style into it, the writing came a lot easier for him. So in a way, the part was written for me.”
Adams was worried about one thing when he began performing the play.
“I kept wondering whether I was going to offend people,” he said. “It’s a tricky road with faith, and it’s been a little surprising that it has not happened yet.”
Johnson said it is a new experience being able to perform for IndyFringe.
“I’ve never done anything with Fringe or at a theater that has this much potential for exposure,” he said. “I am really looking forward to that. To be on the ground floor of this success for (Adams) as a playwright and have so many people see it, it’s been fun to share that with him and be a part of his vision for the show.”
Adams said he is hoping that people who come see his play get two things out of it.
“I hope they get some laughs out of it,” he said. “I’d be really happy with just that. If people can walk out with new things to think about whether that be faith or spiritual, whether they have that aspect in their lives or not, that would be great.”
Visit www.indyfringe.org or cal 869-6660 for ticket information and showtimes.