Two lively comedies to tell you about this time. In these times of financial worries… there’s just nothin’ better than a good hearty laugh!

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I’m Just Wild About Harry

The cast of “I’m Just Wild About Harry.”

This delightful, crowd pleasing, olde tyme musical comedy was endearingly appealing from start to finish! It was cleverly adapted by Gary Lamb and William A. Reilly from Brandon Thomas’s English farce, “Charlie’s Aunt,” first performed in 1892. A good old fashioned PG-rated romantic and funny “feel good” romp, to lift your spirits and tickle your funny bones… You too will be “wild about Harry!” Under the crisp and well timed direction of Joanne McGee, a talented, enthusiastic and endlessly playful cast takes us back to the days when young men were noble and young ladies were “proper.” It is 1910 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin… and love all round is in rampant bloom! Friends Harry and Jack are flutteringly in love with the innocent damsels, Katy and Margie. Needing a chaperone to visit with the girls for lunch, and ultimately propose marriage, they must put up with Katy’s crotchety uncle (a hysterical Louis Silvers) and await the arrival of Harry’s loving Aunt Donna Lucia. When the aunt is delayed, they convince their thespian buddy Babbs to don ladies’ attire, and impersonate her. Douglas Thornton is screamingly funny as the auntie in “drag!” As Harry and Jack, Matthew Thompson and Mikhail Roberts are pricelessly perfect! As the objects of their “exploding desire”… Katy (Melanie Taylor) and Margie (Sarah French) are both innocently coquettish! This quivering quartet of lovers won our hearts throughout! Dave Berges is loveable as Jack’s dad, Carol Jones is sassy fun as the “real” late arriving Aunt Donna Lucia, and Lisaun Whittingham is charming as her niece, Ida. I won’t give away any more of the whacky plot, but it is a wildly entertaining journey! Chocked full of surprises… and technically sparkling… kudos to: Keiko Moreno (great set), Tanya Apuya (gorgeous period costumes), Stephanie Pease (choreography) and the piano accompaniment of Musical Director Bill O’ Reilly. Exceptional actors/singers all, this is an excellent production! Slapstick insanity sprinkled with the innocence of young love… Bonus: You will surely know most of the 20 “turn of the century” songs, and struggle not to sing along out loud! Don’t miss this one! Running through July 17 at Crown City Theatre located at 11031 Camarillo St. in North Hollywood. For seats, call (818) 605-5685.

Moose on the Loose – A World Premiere

Dina Morrone and Johnny Ferretti in “Moose on the Loose.”

A zany Italian comedy that kept the audience laughing, while exploring each character’s passions and deep sense of “familia”… this one is a lot of fun! Taking place in 2001 in a tiny, freezing cold town in Canada, called “Way up Bay,” the Tappinos migrated here decades ago, in search of a better life. Here, we meet parents, grandparents and four adult kids, co-existing and verbally sparring… with passion, love and hilarity! Let’s face it… Italians are volatile and their families are deeply emotionally connected! Written with a lot of heart and “pisano pizzazz,” by Dina Morrone (from true life events), you will laughingly relate to this funny and heartfelt family story. Under the skillful and fast paced direction of Peter Flood, an accomplished cast of twelve takes us on a fun-filled trip into the psyche of the Italian family lifestyle. Gina (a spunky and high-spirited Morrone) returns home to take a year off from her high profile career. She harbors a secretive reason for this choice. The day she arrives, a gigantic “loose moose” saunters into the neighborhood (a toweringly terrific Eric Allan Kramer), which has everyone in an uproar. Gina’s volatile parents (John Cygan and Constance Mellors) and quirky grandparents (Jack Kutcher and Laura James) riotously squabble for family dominance. A quartet of brilliantly bonkers… perfectly timed performances! As Gina’s siblings (a variety of “nutcakes”) feverishly interact… It’s like she never left home! Each of them have “issues,” and squabble for their beliefs (All well played, by Johnny Ferretti, Nick McDow and Corinne Shor). Rounding out the nutty cast nicely is: Michael Lorre, Grant Venable and Jemma Bosch. A highly effective technical team places us at the heart of the story, and into the lives of this loud and lovingly expressive family. Congrats to: Jeff G. Rack (set design), Celina Yun (costumes), Yancey Dunham (lighting) and David Johnson (sound). For a heartwarming peek at “Familia–Italian style,” you must meet the passionate Tappino clan! Running through July 10 at Theatre West located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West in L.A. (Studio City adjacent). For seats, call (323) 851-7977.

Correction:

Apologies are in order! In my last week’s review of The Poor of New York… my intended accolades to Liz Nankin for her “fab” costume design, and Jazmin Lopez for her moody lighting, somehow got messed up. Sorry… everyone deserves their due credit!

eLove starring Bobbi Stamm and Lloyd Peterson

This upbeat and clever musical about a duo searching for love in “cyberspace,” played in L.A. numerous times, to rave reviews. If you have family/friends in the Upland area (45 minutes away), they too can experience the fun! Running at Upland’s Grove Theatre on June 24, 25 and 26… For reservations, call (909) 920-4343.

That’s my story for this week… Back soon!

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