by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
OPCT and The Tom Nehl Fund of the Community Foundation opened playwright Ken Ludwig’s wild and wacky farce, “Moon Over Buffalo”. The play continues through March 24; call (904) 276-2599 or visit opct.org for reservations.
“Moon over Buffalo” opened in 1995 on Broadway with Carol Burnett who received a Tony Nomination. It has been a very popular play all over America since that time.
This is the story of an over-the-hill acting couple, who in 1953 are on tour in Buffalo, New York offering two plays, either” Cyrano de Bergerac” or Noel Coward’s “Private Lives”. They learn they will have one more opportunity to land starring roles in “The Twilight of the Scarlet Pimpernel”, a new movie. The world famous movie producer and director Frank Capra will be coming to a matinee to catch their act. This zany comedy becomes a farce of huge proportions, with misunderstandings and mistaken identities, and lots and lots of running in and out of the five doors on the set.
Our leading man George Hay (RAY CHUTE) is suspected of having an affair with the troupe’s ingénue Eileen (SHELLY FURLONG). George’s wife Charlotte (BRENDA COHN) is thinking about leaving him for their dapper and long-time attorney Richard (BILL KRONER). Their daughter Rosalind (SARA GREEN), who left show business because she wanted a normal life, is visiting. Rosalind has come to introduce her new fiancé, Howard (DANIEL SCHULTHEIS) to her parents; he works as a television weatherman. Things get complicated because of Paul (STEVE MCMAHON). You see, Paul is Rosalind’s former fiancé and is the company manager, and he still loves her. The final funny character is Charlotte’s very hard of hearing mother Ethel (TINA ARMIJO-BARKELOO), who takes care of the company’s costumes, makes the coffee, and is a thorn in George’s side. There you have the makings for a lot of slapstick fun.
All the action takes place in the theatre’s ready room, which is a bright green. Designed by Director Barbara Wells and her husband David, it has those five necessary and well used doors for all that coming and going. The set includes furnishings with a couch, small tables, a desk, and a screen. And oh yes, an Egyptian sarcophagus.
The costumes by Linda Blair, Bill Kroner and the cast reflect the fifties and include suits with broad lapels for the men, and fitted dresses for the women. Lovely gowns are used in the two repertory plays.
The play is directed by Barbara Wells with Bill Kroner as Assistant Director and David Drew Herndon as a student director trainee. Denise French as Stage Manager kept things running smoothly, especially challenging with all the entrances and exits of the cast.
The second act is especially funny as things come to a head. George gets drunk, and appears as Cyrano in the play “Private Lives” and anything and everything that could go wrong does go wrong.
Ray Chute has the lion’s share of lines and entrances, and is on stage for almost every minute of the two-hour show. He makes a great George. We want to welcome Bill Kroner, long time actor and director with the former First Coast Theatre Arts, back to the boards. Welcome as well to Daniel Schultheis, making his OPTC debut in his first show in 20 years. Also making her OPTC debut is Shelly Furlong, who last appeared in Limelight’s “Dixie Swim Club”.
Farce demands actors who are sharp with their lines and timing as things move at a relentless pace. Under Mrs. Well’s direction, this cast delivered fine performances. If you want to laugh, don’t miss this show; it is one of comic genius, and one of Ken Ludwig’s funniest.
MOON OVER BUFFALO
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM