COME BLOW YOUR HORN – Back To Alhambra’s Beginning

ALHAMBRA THEATRE AND DINING REVIEW

A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW BY DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM

The Alhambra Theatre and Dining is celebrating its birthday throughout 2017. This cherished Jacksonville venue is now fifty years old, and the owners are making the January opening of the year-long celebration special by staging Neil Simon’s “Come Blow Your Horn,” the theatre’s opening show in 1967. And to make it even more special, they are offering unheard of pricing for this limited showing running through January 27. You can purchase two tickets for the show for only $50.00 — and Chef DeJuan Roy’s wonderful table service three-course meal is included!

Neil Simon is one of America’s most prolific and most successful playwrights; he has written over thirty plays, and was also the screenwriter for multiple films. “Come Blow Your Horn” was his first Broadway play. He won a Tony for “The Odd Couple“ in 1965 and a Pulitzer Prize for “Lost in Yonkers” in l991.

The gala audience laughed long and hard at Simon’s wisecracks and rapid-fire jokes which are even funnier today than they were fifty years ago.

“Horn” is a domestic drama, the story of a Jewish family living in New York City. All the action takes place in the bachelor pad of Alan Baker (Adam Kaster), a playboy of thirty-three, who takes in Buddy (Vincent Hannam), his much younger brother (he is twenty-one) to teach him about the delights of a life filled with wine, women, and song. Alan is currently wooing two lovely ladies; his steady date Connie (Jessica Booth), who is conflicted about marriage, and his neighbor Peggy (Abby Jaros), who is beautiful but not overly bright.

The two brothers work in the family business; a factory that produces waxed fruit. Baker is old school; his children have an obligation to continue working in the family business. And his sons have an obligation to marry, and soon; unmarried males over thirty are bums. Mrs. Baker has expectations of her own for herself and for her children, which creates further turmoil within the family.

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The parents are portrayed by actors you know if you’ve gone to the Alhambra over the past few years. Tod Booth is the producer/director of the theatre and had as well been the owner prior to its purchase in 2009 by Craig Smith and partners. Booth is an accomplished actor and has appeared in a number of roles over the years. He plays the grumpy father to perfection and is joined by Lisa Valdini, his real-life wife, as the mother. Lisa appears on stage at the Alhambra from time to time, mainly in comic roles at which she excels. Tod and Lisa are absolutely deadpan delights in this play and are masters at milking every line for maximum laughter. Lisa’s phone scene in Act One as a distraught mother trying to take phone messages without pencil and paper will have you laughing to the point of tears.

While Jessica Booth, Tod and Lisa’s daughter, has done a number of shows on the Alhambra’s stage, this is the first time she has appeared with both parents. She is now a New York based actress but loves to do roles here because, well, after all, there’s no place like home.

Neil Simon is as funny as ever, so don’t miss this classic performed to perfection. And, as always in a Simon play, there is a happy ending.

Production Team: Tod Booth (Director), Dave Dionne & Ian Black (Set Design), Camala Pitts & Dorinda Quiles (Costumes), Tobias Evans (Lighting Design), Linnay Bennett (Sound Design), Shain Stroff (Stage Manager.

Tickets for this dinner theatre show at $25.00 each are selling fast. They are a bargain and may very well be the only chance you will ever have to experience such a delightful comedy and fabulous dinner together in such an elegant setting for such a modest price. Call 641-1212 or visit alhambrajax.com for reservations.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.

october, 2021

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