'The Underpants' goes above and beyond for laughs

"I'm the audience's surrogate," Haney said of the rehearsal time. "The actors are savvy and smart, and they know what's funny and what's not. Still, the first audience's reactions were so large, we're tweaking the sound cues we couldn't hear over the laughter."

Haney, the associate artistic director at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, is in Albany for four weeks. He was last here to direct "The Syringa Tree," also at Cap Rep. He recently directed "The Clean House," which just opened at Lincoln Center.

"It's interesting to work in a different space," he said. "I like working with new people."

At Cap Rep, the "thrust" stage provided Haney with the challenge of making sure all the audience could see the physical comedy taking place.

"This is a good play for Cap Rep," Haney said. "The intimate theater is effective; it lets you see the subtleties of the piece."

Haney also had high praise for the cast.

"It's always nice when a cast gets along," he said. "This cast is first-rate, and is bringing a lot of great energy to the stage. I hope the audience falls in love with them."

Zischke said he was surprised to not know any of the other cast members in "The Underpants," but "it turns out we all have the same friends," he said with a grin.

Zischke and his wife, Victoria Adams Zischke, live with their 2-year-old daughter, Alexandra, in Beacon, Duchess County. Adams Zischke acts, too, which means "our bedroom is in Beacon, but the United States is our living room," Zischke said. The Zischkes take their daughter with them when they're performing, and hire a nanny in the town where they are performing.

"She's 2 and has been to 25 states," Zischke said.

He has also led a peripatetic life, born in San Francisco and moving to New York City after going to Stanford University. There, he studied with the acting teacher Sanford Meisner, and was his assistant. Today, Zischke works "90 percent in theater, and some film and television," he said.

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