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Local Produces The Falls

Claude Slotnick is a firm believer that it’s all about the journey, not the destination. This theme is the driving force behind his play The Falls, which premieres on the Theater for the New City stage this weekend.

The play centers around Nina and Dodge, who meet at a bar and the next morning decide to take a spontaneous road trip to Niagara Falls.

Slotnick, a Plainview native, says the play is not so much about the couple being at Niagara Falls as it is about them getting there.

“I think road trips are very much about the voyage,” says Slotnick. “When you’re sitting in a car and you talk, that conversation takes you to all sorts of places. Instead of being stuck in traffic, you can find the conversation takes you into interesting territory.”

Within the privacy of the car, the two are given the chance to get to know each other and themselves.

 “They’re removed from the rest of the world and no one interrupts them,” Slotnick says. “They’re two people on a tightrope. No one walks in or throws them a lifeline. If they fall, we’ll see them fall. If they have great moments, we’ll see that.”

Hicksville’s Deborah Rupy says it was the realness of the script that attracted her to the play. While she is typically onstage, having last starred in Theater for the New City’s Lady of Limerick, for this play she takes on the role of producer.

“I have produced before, and it’s something I enjoy doing because I’m very detailed. It’s not too tough of a transition, it’s nice to put on a different hat,” Rupy says. “My first love is acting, but this is just a different aspect of theater. There’s still that same family feeling I enjoy and the love for the work."

As producer, Rupy’s duties include working with members of the crew, working with the writer and actors, setting up rehearsal schedules and more. But she says her favorite part of producing is seeing the play come to life.

“It’s so exciting to see a play go from the written word, to being produced,” Rupy says.

Taking on the role of Nina is Bethpage's Stephanie Tapoler. Like Rupy, she found the script’s rawness refreshing.

“I liked how real and intimate it was. It’s almost like an intrusion on a relationship,” says Tapoler.

Tapoler’s counterpart is Levittown’s Michael Schlapp, who plays Dodge. He says he was attracted to the show because he thought it would be a good challenge.

“It was a little romantic so I was drawn to that, and the play had a lot of interesting circumstances I wanted to explore as an actor,” he says.

Unlike other shows that have multiple actors and extras to fill in the background, The Falls is a two person cast starring only Schlapp and Tapoler.

“There are not all these different relationships to build, just this one to work on, but it’s a very complicated one,” she says. “It makes for an interesting show though, because it’s just the two of us the whole time.”

The Falls will be performed at The Theater For the New City at 155 First Ave. in Manhattan July 10-12 and July 17-19 at 8 p.m., and July 13 and 20 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15; students/seniors $12. For more information visit