Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ludwig lunacy in Lynden

Fabulous farce at Claire vg
by Christopher Key

Any time Teri Grimes directs a show, you know it’s going to be a treat.  When she combines her talents with those of playwright Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Leading Ladies) you’d better bring Depends® if you want to avoid any accidents.  Moon Over Buffalo is Ludwig at the top of his game and Grimes knows just where to take it: over the top.

Ludwig loves poking fun at theatre people and God knows there’s a lot of material to work with.  There’s two aging actors whose talents are best described by a line from the play: “…stick cloves in them and cover them with pineapple slices.”  Their daughter desperately longs to have a normal (as opposed to theatrical) life and plans to marry a TV weatherman.  Grandma is as deaf as a rock ‘n roll sound tech and can’t tell first aid from lemonade.  Throw in daughter’s ex-fiancé, a showbiz lawyer and a pregnant ingénue, and let the good times roll.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

David Bolden delivers the best performance of his career as George Hay, the boozy old hack who can’t remember whether he’s playing Cyrano or Elyot from Private Lives.  Bolden’s amazing physicality makes the role sing and he may well be one large bruise by the end of the run.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

His long-suffering wife Charlotte is played by Holly Pierce, who can out-ham her hubby without breaking a sweat.  Pierce returns to the Claire vg Thomas stage after a 14-year hiatus and let’s hope she’s back to stay.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

Ethel (aka Grandma) is given an uproarious ride by the always amazing Joan Prinz.  She can do more with her face than most actors can do with their entire bodies.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

Robin Becar plays daughter Rosalind.  You may remember her as The Aviatrix from The Drowsy Chaperone.  The WWU senior gets a lot more stage time in this production and makes the most of it.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

The estimable Alan Peet is a past master at quirky characters and has a field day as showbiz lawyer Richard who wants nothing more than to run away with Charlotte.

Rosalind’s ex is played by Evan Ricci with a goofy geekiness that makes you understand why she dumped him.  Her current flame, the TV meteorologist Howard who thinks a low-pressure system signals good weather, is portrayed by Kyle Pennington.  Eileen, the ingénue impregnated by George, is played by Gillian Dodson whose theatrical genes are as blue as they come.

In theatre, this kind of show is known as a five-door farce.  David Cohn’s brilliant set only has four doors, but they get a thorough workout as the actors run in and out with Marxist fury.  That’s Groucho and company, not Karl.

Moon Over Buffalo is set in 1953 when movies and TV were overwhelming live theatre and that lends a poignant touch to stage actors struggling to cope with the new abnormal.  Costume Goddess Genny Cohn captures that more elegant era with her usual genius.

Dee Dee O’Connor steps out of the tech booth to assistant direct and there seems to be no limit to her talents.  The same can be said for Stage Manager Susan Duncan.

Moon Over Buffalo plays September 17 through October 4 at the Claire vg Thomas Theatre, 755 Front Street in Lynden.  This riotous romp is a sure sellout, so reserve your tickets now by calling (360) 354-4425.  Box office hours are Tuesday – Friday 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Laughter is the best medicine and this show will cure whatever ails you.

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