Moving 'Middletown' Examines the Power of Friendship

Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables Boosts Show With Star Power

The star-studded cast of Actors' Playhouse's


The star-studded cast of Actors' Playhouse's "Middletown" features Adrian Zmed, Didi Conn, Loretta Swit and Didi Conn. (Photo by Alberto Romeu)

Mary Damiano

As one character says at the start of "Middletown," if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

The bond between two couples as they navigate the minutiae of everyday life is explored in Middletown, by South Florida playwright Dan Clancy, on stage through Dec. 12 at Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables.

For its first mainstage production since spring of 2020,  Actors’ Playhouse has decided to enlist some star power for Clancy’s heartfelt play. Each of the four actors in "Middletown" are familiar faces with extensive theater, film and television credits.

Didi Conn, best known for her role as beauty school drop-out Frenchy in "Grease" and "Grease 2"; and Adrian Zmed, who starred in "Grease" on Broadway and on "T.J. Hooker" on television, play Peg and Tom. Loretta Swit, TV’s Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan on "MASH"; and Donny Most, Ralph Malph from "Happy Days," play Dotty and Don.

Over the course of about 90 minutes, the audience experiences 33 years of friendship between the two couples, beginning when Peg and Dotty meet taking their daughters to their first day of school. Peg is the more sensitive of the two moms, experiencing separation anxiety, while Dotty is more remote, happy her child is finally in school so she can get back to her career as a teacher.

At left, Didi Conn as Peg and Loretta Swit as Dottie in Dan Clancy's


At left, Didi Conn as Peg and Loretta Swit as Dottie in Dan Clancy's "Middletown." At right, Adrian Zmed and Didi Conn play husband and wife, Peg and Tom in "Middletown." (Photo by Alberto Romeu)

As their friendship blossoms, Peg and Dotty decide it’s time for their husbands to meet. Artsy, poetry-loving Tom and sports-minded Don get off to a rocky start, but soon become friends. The couples become inseparable, enjoying dinner every Friday night at their favorite restaurant, vacationing together, and raising their children alongside one another.

"Middletown" is a slice-of-life play, showcasing, in its gentle way, the power of friendship and the heroic role friends play in each other’s lives. "Middletown" illustrates life’s twists and turns, the celebrations and the tragedies, and shows how much we need our friends for both.

This intimate portrait of friendship is simply staged: Four chairs set in a row, a few tables in between, and four black music stands comprise the set. The actors stand at the music stands and mostly read their lines from their scripts. This is how staged readings are done, but it works with "Middletown," and stays true to the play’s simple, plainspoken structure.

Under the deft direction of Seth Greenleaf, all four actors beautifully embody their roles. Swit has the showiest part, as boozy, fun-loving Dotty, while Most is her perfect foil as Don. Zmed plays Tom with restrained introspection.

Conn, as Peg, is the heart of the show. She’s the main storyteller, beginning the play and often acting as keen observer to the foibles and relationship dynamics of the two couples. Conn and Most also share the most climactic scene in "Middletown," and Conn’s portrayal as a frantic mother in those moments is heart-wrenching.

At left, Adrian Zmed and Donny Most; at right, the cast of


At left, Adrian Zmed and Donny Most; at right, the cast of "Middletown" at Actors' Playhouse. (Photo by Alberto Romeu)

With "Middletown," Clancy has created relatable characters and a portrait of friendship that resonates. It’s the "Seinfeld" of plays — it’s a show about nothing, that is really about everything that matters.

"Middletown" runs through Dec. 12 at Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables. For tickets and more information, call (305) 444-9293 or visit

Also Happening in the Magic City

powered by