Two highly entertaining romantic comedies to recommend this week.
One contemporary and the other written 100 years ago… Funny how little the “dance of romance” has changed through the years…
Everybody Say “Cheese!”
BURBANK- If you’re yearning for a break from the endless news reports on the dismal state of our economy, this wacky comedy should do the trick! Now in its West Coast Premiere, it was first produced 1972 in Illinois, starring Marion Ross (“Happy Days”), and was originally called “Shelves.” Written by “show-biz icon” Garry Marshall, with a hilarious “tongue in cheek” look at marriage and divorce in the mid-60s at the height of the Women’s Liberation Movement, there are plenty of nostalgic laughs to be had. Under the fast-paced Direction of the highly-revered Steve Zuckerman, an excellent cast takes us on a wild ride back to the past. Wee critique: For me, the manic speed of the non-stop zingers flew by so fast, that at times, the laughs crowded each other. Probably just opening night enthusiasm…
We are at the slightly tacky, overly decorated home of a long married couple, Harriet and Leo, in the Bronx in 1965. Their two daughters (with growing pains of their own) have left the nest and Harriet (the “picture-perfect” wife) is facing her 50th birthday. Harriet is raring to “live it up” and Leo (a bit of a couch potato), is happy to hide out building shelves at home. Her liberated passion is “to join the Women’s Movement… before it stops moving,” and Leo’s dream is “to die before something happens to him.” Shocking him out of his comfort zone, she announces that she wants a divorce, and a long-desired chance to “experience” life. She tells him that she has hired a lawyer/photographer to arrive that night with a “call girl” to stage incriminating fake sex photos, to expedite a “quickie” divorce. Adding to the insanity, their daughter Gail turns up (a riotous Heather Corwin), for motherly advice on her intimate sex problems with her hubby, Barry (a funny Cyrus Alexander). Joe Regalbuto (Frank on TV’s “Murphy Brown”) as Leo, and DeeDee Rescher as Harriet (many TV roles), are a dynamically double delight, and veteran actor John Capodice is lovably loony as their bumbly, retired neighbor, Charlie. Roberta Valderrama nearly steals the show as the hooker with a heart of gold and a screamingly funny sinus condition! A terrific cast all ‘round! A top-notch design team sets the mood inspiringly. Keith Mitchell’s cleverly cluttered 1960’s apartment set, Anna McGill’s kooky props, and Terri A. Lewis’s 1960’s costumes offer a fun lovin’ visual flashback! Nick McCord’s lighting and David Beaudry’s sound round out the fun. A “good time” production… turn off that TV and head for the “theeatah!” Running through April 11th at the Falcon Theatre – 4252 Riverside Dr. in Burbank. Call 818-955-8101.
LOS ANGELES- Written by George Bernard Shaw one hundred years ago, his notion that in courtships, it is usually the woman who “chases” and the man who “resists,” still often rings true today. A charmingly witty, deliciously quirky romantic farce plays out as alliances of the heart “hit and miss” repeatedly, exploring love and lust issues that will always motivate romance. The widely respected, multi award-winning Director, Elina de Santos, has chosen a stellar cast, and guides them with great skill and a playful heart. You will likely recognize many cast members from previous roles on TV, stage, and film. Taking place in Surrey, England, all on one eventful day, we are at the mansion of the Tarleton family, who has earned their fortune manufacturing underwear. The shenanigans unfold as they interact with their aristocratic friends, the Summerhays, who were simply “born” into great wealth. The high-spirited and attractive Hypatia Tarleton (a superb Abigail Rose Solomon) is betrothed to the decent, but immature and diminutive, Bentley Summerhays (an animated Orestes Arcuni), much to her dapperly and opinionated brother Johnny’s dismay (a saucily sarcastic Christopher Franciosa). Deeply longing for “true love” and fairy tale romantic adventures, she passionately confides in her mother (a feisty Maggie Peach). Greg Mullavey (from “Mary Hartman”) and Armin Shimeran (from “Star Trek”), two consummate actors, both give flawlessly fabulous performances as the fathers, John Tarleton and Lord Summerhays. Act Two “explodes” as an airplane crashes right into the Tarleton home, as a dashingly handsome man and his female passenger tumble out onto their floor. Let the games begin! Nick Mennell as Joseph, the hunky pilot (who sends a chill down the spine of Hypatia) is charmingly believable. Molly Schaffer sizzles as his spunky, acrobatic, Polish passenger, who revs up the fantasies of the “father figures.” Each hilariously tries to win her affection! Capably rounding out the cast as a “thief on a mission” is David Clayberg. Such silly fun! Exceptional behind-the-scenes efforts here too. Stephan Gifford’s detailed set is stunning, Dennis Ballard’s period costumes are gorgeous, and Leigh Allen’s lighting and Christopher Moscatiello’s sound are technical perfection. A fine production with plenty of spicy twists ‘n’ turns… Do see this one! Running through April 26th at the Odyssey Theatre – 2055 Sepulveda in Los Angeles. Call 310-477-2055.
See you next week as always… I may occasionally run out of money, time and energy… but I will never run out of words.