The Alhambra opened a one-month run of a handsome and energetic production of Jeanne and Sam Bobick’s “Weekend Comedy,” starring CINDY WILLIAMS from ABC’s “Laverne and Shirley.”
While Ms. Williams is well known to her many fans in this area, playwright Sam Bobick is not. Two of Mr. Bobick’s plays have been done at the Alhambra, but you have to be an old timer to remember them. “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” and “Wally’s Café” both played here with award winning actor Robert Morse in the lead. Bobick knows comedy, as he has written for such TV shows as “Captain Kangaroo,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” and “Bewitched.” He has penned over 35 plays, which is even more than the famously prolific Neil Simon.
“Weekend Comedy” is set in a remote mountain cabin in upstate New York, on a Memorial Day weekend. Two couples discover to their dismay that both have confirmed reservations for the same cabin due to a booking error on the part of the rental agent.
Frank (Tom McElroy) and Peggy (Cindy Williams) are in their fifties and have been married for many years. Peggy has arranged this vacation in hopes of rekindling their earlier passions. So, no television, no telephone, no internet, which leads Frank to wonder what they can possibly do to pass the time. Tony (Dominic Windsor) and Jill (Kelsey Clifford) are much younger, but also have a romantic reason for booking the cabin, as they are celebrating an anniversary; they have been living together for four years.
Tempers flare initially as the two couples argue about who will be staying. Frank and Peggy arrived first, but Tony and Jill have rented the same cabin on the same holiday weekend for the past three years. After exchanging some acrimonious words, Tony agrees to leave, and then gives Frank and Peggy a bottle of champagne to add a festive touch to their weekend. Frank and Peggy relent and decide to let the ‘youngsters’ stay since it would be impossible for them to find another place.
As the weekend proceeds, there are many funny encounters, particularly between the two men. Tony is a rich and spoiled kid who works for his father, makes over $250,000 a year, and drives a Porsche, while Frank came from a hard-scrabble background, and due entirely to his own efforts now owns a small office supply business. Further, their ideas of what is important in a relationship are quite different. While Frank belittles romance, he values commitment; Tony may love Jill, but he isn’t as yet ready for marriage. Interestingly, while the two women have their differences, they are also quite supportive of each other.
The seemingly serious conflicts have space to stretch into broad comedy. One of the funniest scenes is when Frank strips down to his briefs. You have to see it to appreciate it. Eventually, the older couple learns to be more open-minded, and the younger couple begins to appreciate the value of stability.
Mr. McElroy is a veteran and a terrific comedian. Last summer we saw him in the acclaimed production of “The Iceman Cometh” in Chicago.
The very attractive Kelsey Clifford is well cast as Jill. The Dual Critics saw her in several productions at FSCJ a few seasons back. She received an Irene Ryan nomination for her performances and she is certainly on the way to a career in theatre.
Dominic Windsor is a name familiar to Alhambra audiences, as he has been in several shows in comic and musical roles. Mr. Windsor liked Jacksonville so much after his first show that he has made this city his home. He is likeable and entertaining as Tony and well matched with Ms. Clifford as his love interest.
Cindy Williams does not let her fans down in this production. A very fine comedian, she uses her voice, facial gestures, and body language to make us laugh. Life has been good to Ms. Williams after “Laverne and Shirley” and she is constantly in demand as an actress and singer. Cindy is very much a people person, and when you go to this show, you will probably get to meet and greet her in the lobby, so bring your camera.
The hardest part of going to the Alhambra is looking over the menu selections and trying to decide which Chef DeJuan Roy entrée to try. Well let’s see, will I have the Slow Smoked Beef Brisket, the Cast Iron Style Fish, Craig’s Campfire Roasted Chicken, or the Spinach and Pepper Jack Quiche? We chose the chicken and the fish, both were excellent and the county style lima beans with the chicken were to die for.
Certainly one of the stars of this show is Set Designer Dave Dionne’s fabulous cabin interior. It stretched across the stage, and included paneled walls brightened with touches of green, comfortable furniture, taxidermy specimens, and a kitchen space.
This comedy has a limited run. Don’t miss it. You will love the breezy dialogue which is a treasury of laughs that leaves the audience buzzing with joy.
Coming up next is the time honored musical South Pacific. In December, Christmas Carole returns and 70% of the tickets to that holiday classic have already been sold. You can find the 2014 schedule, with nine plays, at alhambrajax.com. The Alhambra is located at 12000 Beach Blvd in Jacksonville; call (904) 641-1212 or visit alhambrajax.com for reservations.