CRESTVIEW — Retiring from his civil service job at the Eglin Air Force Base hospital gave Crestview actor Joe Perna the opportunity to pursue his real love: The theatre.
Thursday, “Soulmate Central,” the play he is directing, opens at the Panhandle Community Theatre in Pace.
The comedy by Rick Ready is particularly special to Perna: Ready wrote it as a wedding gift for the director and his former wife, Bonnie Marks.
“Years ago I was doing a show and I was in the process of getting married, and I was kidding around and said, “Why don’t you write something for Bonnie and me?’” Perna said.
The two remain friends, and Marks is Perna’s assistant director for his third time directing “Soulmate Central” at PCT.
Primarily associated with the Stagecrafters theatre troupe in Fort Walton Beach, “I go through periods where I take a break and I branch out,” Perna said.
Last year he directed Neil Simon’s “Jake’s Woman” for Northwest Florida State College, and he would like a chance to work with Crestview’s View From the Stage community troupe.
Perna said he loves community theatre.
“It’s a lot of work; you don’t get paid,” Perna said. “The adulation is great, and I’m at the point where I really love doing it. Getting paid would be nice, but that’s another story.
His two favorite shows to direct are dramatically different.
“I directed ‘The Seven Year Itch’ and ‘Frankenstein,’” he said. “Those two I really loved. With ‘Frankenstein,” I added a lot of special effects that weren’t in the script because I like to think outside the box. It was a good experience.”
“I like the classics,” Perna said.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Panhandle Community Theatre’s production of Rick Ready’s “Soulmate Central”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. July 17-19 and 24-26; 2:30 p.m. July 20 and 27
WHERE: Woodbine Theatre, 4646 Woodbine Road, Pace
TICKETS: $12; July 17 and 24 shows, $9. Reservations: 850-221-7599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTES: Contains adult subject matter. No one under 13 may be admitted.