This past weekend, the NE Florida Conservatory debuted its first non-musical (straight) show as they expand their artistic stage outreach beyond vocalists by adding straight plays to their repertoire, Three’s a Crowd, a comedy written by Phoebe and Henry Ephron, opened on Broadway in 1943. It has not been widely performed, which is sad, as it is a very funny script. I don’t know how director Bill Di Stanisloa found this gem.
Sam (Gavin Turner) and Francis Whitaker (Ralin Trosclair) play off each other well sharing their two-bedroom apartment with Francis’ sister, Irma, for two years. Very soon it becomes a household of five, when the Whitakers’ daughter, Kitty (Audrey Elizabeth Everett), moves in with her baby, her husband (Joseph Howard) having gone off to the war after a torrid argument. This displaces Irma from her room to the living room sofa, making her feel like an unwanted guest. Come Thanksgiving, it becomes a household of seven, when the Whitakers’ Vaudeville-style son, Archie (Alex Liggett), and his very-pregnant wife (Madeline Krawchuck) wind up having their baby there before dinner’s served because all of the hospitals are full. The two-bedroom apartment has now become a household of eight, when you count the revolving-door maids (Erin Krull and Emily Turner) who come and go and add hilarity to the mix. If that’s not enough, add in a terribly old Dr. Bartell (Andy Thompson) whose professional visits make it seem like a trip to a sanitarium’s in order.
Kitty’s husband, Eugene, surprises the family by returning on leave for Thanksgiving. Only he finds that the maid has gotten drunk and run off with the baby, his mother-in-law hired the maid off the street, and when the baby is returned, she’s overtired and won’t stop crying. Eugene wants a divorce and custody, so he asks over his attorney friend, Joe Franklin (George Doran), who shows up also on Thanksgiving, with his two-weeks-late pregnant wife, Marion (Kayla Chouinard). Everyone other than Eugene can think of nothing other than, “how do we get them out of here before another delivery?”
The relatively large cast is rounded out by a diaper delivery man (Evan Billings), a Western Union deliverer (Grace Shields), and two movers for the baby furniture (Evan and Pat Billings). The set was a charming and effective use of the space. The props, music, and most costumes were period for the 40’s, adding a nice touch.
The show was only onstage for the one weekend, so by the time you read this it will be too late to attend. You’ll just have to look for their next venture. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what it will be!
NE FL Conservatory is located at 11363 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32223. For reservations or information, you can call (904) 374-8639 or go to www.showtixnow.com. The Conservatory offers ongoing music and dance classes.