A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW
Jacksonville’s Alhambra Theatre and Dining opened A Fox on the Fairway on May 9th, 2018. This laugh-filled farce runs through Sunday, June 10th. The theatre is located at 12000 Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida.
The play, which debuted in 2010, was written by Ken Ludwig, a popular and prolific playwright who is a Tony award winner. A number of his plays have made it to Jacksonville’s stages over the years, including Lend Me A Tenor, Leading Ladies, Moon Over Buffalo, The Game’s Afoot, and The Beaux’ Stratagem. If you like laughing, you are going to love Fox.
Fox is a synergistic choice for the Alhambra. The prestigious PGA’s The Players Championship tournament, held this year during May 8th – 13th, has made Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra Beach famous throughout the world, and Fox is perfect entertainment for avid fans.
Non-golfer fans will be happy to know the comedy’s appeal doesn’t depend on an in-depth understanding of the game. One only needs to know that golf is played on a grassy course with a small white ball and multiple clubs, and the golfer who gets the ball into eighteen holes during four days with the fewest strokes receives a substantial monetary prize, while local charities also benefit from the ticket sales.
The play takes place in the tap room of the Quail Valley Country Club, which features a full bar, a comfortable seating area, and a door leading to the kitchen. French doors offer a lovely view of the sky and the greens. Set Designers Dave Dionne and Ian Black created this elegant setting.
Bingham (Timothy Ellis), the club’s president, is once again issuing a challenge to Dickie (Craig Benton), president of the rival Crouching Squirrel Country Club – which team will win this year’s annual golf tournament? While Quail Valley has lost the last five of these tournaments, Bingham is confident that his club will prevail this year; he has discovered that Justin (Ryan Borses), a young newly-hired employee, is an ace golfer. He proposes a wager of $100,000 on the outcome, which Dickie accepts. Unfortunately, it turns out that Justin is erratic and unpredictable, and when his fiancée Louise (Brittany Bennett) admits she has lost the heirloom engagement ring he has given her, Justine loses his composure and his golfing skills.
Every farce we have seen has its share of mixed-up love affairs and bombshell surprises, leading audience members to begin to wonder who belongs to whom. Bingham is married to Muriel, portrayed by Lisa Valdini, (the Alhambra’s favorite comedienne), but has a romantic relationship with Pamela (Beck Baxter), Dickie’s ex-wife. She is a Quail Valley trustee, who is an attractive, sex- starved boozer.
We learn hush-hush secrets about all of the characters as tournament time approaches and the show devolves into a crazed frenzy. The scene where Bingham recounts his version of the history of golf is very funny indeed, as is an argument over the ownership of an antique vase valued at thousands of dollars, which leads to the vase being thrown about from person to person. (We expected more of an audience reaction to this scene, but the vase used was smallish, and didn’t look as if it would excite anyone if dropped).
The Costume Crew created a unique fashion show, with expensive stylish outfits for Pamela. The kooky attire worn by Muriel and the men is bright and colorful and will have you reaching for your sunglasses.
We will let you discover the fantastic ending, and yes, as with all farces, the ending is a happy one. Director/Producer Tod Booth has an outstanding energetic cast for this show. Three of the performers have been on the Alhambra stage in the past. Becky Baxter played the role of Marian in The Music Man, then moved on to a distinguished career in New York, where she appeared with celebrities in a number of shows. Additionally, she has appeared with the New York City Opera and in PBS productions. Timothy Ellis has previously appeared in six Alhambra musicals; this is his first non-singing role at this theatre. Lisa Valdini is well-known for her many appearances on this stage for a number of years. She also runs the Alhambra’s children’s theatre program and directed The Reluctant Dragon, this year’s featured production, which was written by Becky Uibel, the Alhambra’s Box Office Manager.
The food choices for A Fox on the Fairway were excellent. The first course offered a choice of soup or salad. The second course offerings were out of this world, so be sure to arrive hungry. Choices included Chef DeJuan Roy’s Famous Roasted Prime Rib with mashed potatoes and garlic green beans; Sweet Tea-Poached Salmon with quinoa, couscous, and grilled asparagus; Chicken Divan; and, for vegetarians, a Corn, White Bean, and Tomato Pie.
A Fox on the Fairway is for adult audiences. Coming up next is the Jacksonville premier of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a musical the kids will love, which will be staged during June 13th – July 29th, 2018. Visit alhambrajax.com or call 904-641-1212 for additional information and reservations.