This week, the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre will open its performance of “Enter Laughing,” directed by Thom Johnson. A carefree comedy about Carl Reiner’s early acting career will provide a new perspective for those people already familiar with this famous actor, writer, director and producer.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of Columbia
Laugh hard.

One of Carl Reiner’s most noteworthy accomplishments was “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which he created and produced in the early 1960s. However, before succeeding in the realm of television comedy series, Reiner wrote the novel “Enter Laughing” (1958) as an autobiography, later adapted as a play (1963) and then a movie (1967).

Since the play opened almost 30 years ago, little has been done to prolong its running. After having first acted in “Enter Laughing” several years ago, director Thom Johnson felt that it was time to bring this wonderful comedy to the Ann Arbor area. According to Johnson, “Comedies are my favorite … and this one has a snappy dialogue, similar to ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show,’ which is one of the reasons why I enjoy it.”

This play will easily appeal to those theatregoers who are just looking to have a good time. Johnson plans to keep his version of the play true to the way it was originally written. He feels that “the play carries itself” and therefore does not require any additional interpretation.

In “Enter Laughing” the audience will leave the performance knowing that Carl Reiner is a man of many trades and his talent extends far beyond the realm of acting. However, this does not take away from the light-hearted atmosphere of this delightful play. As Thom Johnson puts it, like many comedies, “this one has no moral … its just fun.”

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