by DICK KEREKES & LEISA SANSOM
A star will be shining for the next four weeks at the Alhambra Theatre & Dining, as Joyce DeWitt headlines a marvelous cast in the bouncy and breezy comedy “Remember Me.” Miss Dewitt was a star in the 1970’s television hit “Three’s Company,” which ran for eight seasons and is considered a TV classic.
This delightful comedy was penned by Sam Bobrick and debuted in 2000. Bobrick has been a prolific writer and three of his plays have been done by the Alhambra during its long history that dates back to 1967. Alhambra longtime regulars may remember “Wally’s Café,” “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s,” and “Norman, Is That You?”
All the action takes place in a swanky New York Upper East Side apartment with a view of Central Park. How swanky? The apartment next door is temporarily for rent as the owners are going to Europe and the rent is over $3,000 a month!! Scenic Designer Dave Dionne’s set has creamy interior walls, comfortable upholstered furniture and French doors opening to a patio.
Miss DeWitt as Mary Hanson lives here with Brian (Michael Strauss), her husband of 27 years. Life has settled into a predictable routine, comfortable but totally unexciting. Brian plays tennis on the weekends while Mary relaxes from her occupation as an interior designer.
On this Sunday morning after hubby leaves, the doorbell suddenly rings, and there stands Peter (Ed Kemper), Mary’s old college boyfriend who dumped her years ago. Is he really there? Old passions are ignited much to the dismay of Brian who comes home unexpectedly early from his tennis match. The situation gets wild and tangled, as you can imagine, but we’re not providing details because we don’t want to be spoilers.
It gets even funnier in Act II when Brian, hoping to make Mary jealous, hires a gorgeous, uninhibited young actress to pose as his new-found romantic interest. The laughs are loud and long as the dense and dizzy Tori (Katharine DeWitt), reveals her inner self with such zingers as “I am a vegetarian except for ribs, chicken and shrimp” and “Yes, I am an actress but I have never had any lines to learn.”
There is an interesting solution to this mayhem that leaves everyone smiling, including all the audience.
Miss DeWitt is a delight to watch on stage, with boundless energy, excellent comic timing, physical gestures, and facial expressions. The other cast members are excellent as well. If you are an Alhambra regular, you may remember Michael Strauss in the two other roles he performed so well: as Charlie Baker in “The Foreigner” and Felix Unger in “The Odd Couple.” Ed Kemper is making his Alhambra debut as Peter, the tall handsome ex-boyfriend who could make any husband jealous!
Katharine DeWitt is Joyce DeWitt’s real-life niece and they have worked together on stage in the past. As Tori, the girl who can’t say no, she captured the essence of a “dumb brunette” to a T.
Besides the happenings on stage, what has become a constant adventure at the Alhambra is choosing what to eat. Chef DeJuan Roy offered four interesting entrées: Pecan Crusted Salmon, Braised Lamb Shanks, Citrus and Herb Roasted Cornish Game Hen, and Herb Roasted Vegetable Risotto. We chose the Lamb Shanks and the Cornish Hen, both were excellent.
The playbill you receive for this show is certainly a collector’s item, with photos of over 70 of the celebrities who have graced the stage since 1969. We are sure many readers will remember Betty Grable, Dorothy Lamour, Cyd Charisse, and Keith Carradine, just to name a few. Tod Booth, the Alhambra’s Artist Director worked with and directed many of them while in Chicago before coming to the Alhambra in the 1980s. Booth loves working with the stars and they love acting for him as Miss DeWitt attested in a brief after-performance speech.
“Remember Me” runs through October 7th, it is a fun show that is superbly acted so don’t miss it. Check out the Alhambra at www.alhambrajax.com and call for reservations at (904) 641-1212.
by DICK KEREKES & LEISA SANSOM