Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jen and Blake Wedding Circus

Debauchery under DeBigTop
by Michael Dresdner

   The venue 

Last night The Jen and Blake Wedding Circus opened to a sellout crowd (a crowd of unabashed sellouts) made up mostly of devotees, minions, and, not surprisingly considering the venue, an odd assortment of sideshow freaks. It all took place under the big top at Circus McGurkus in McMillan, causing miles long backups of vehicles on the adjacent road.  

   "... an odd assortment of sideshow freaks."

As you know, a review is simply one person’s observations of an event, and may differ markedly from what other attendees observed. Here then, is how I saw events unfold.

               The Godfather

Overseeing the event was godfather Don Guido, shown above in distinctive red ascot, and later while granting a wedding day boon to a supplicant.  

                   Don Guido with a supplicant 

The wedding scene opened with the couple’s minions gathering on stage, well disguised in costume, yet each showing some indication of the distinctive “minion yellow” in the form of a tie or shoes. They formed an honor guard around the groom and the Ringmaster, who was dressed in the traditional red tophat, black boots, and garish cutaway and vest.

               Minions wore distinctive yellow markers 

The aisle consisted of a thick, brocade red carpet interwoven with images of cavorting mystical creatures and strewn with rose petals by a gaily prancing flower girl. As the bride entered, resplendant in green silk and leading a 10 foot Bengal tiger named Sophie by a satin ribbon, the crowd erupted in applause.

   Sophie, the Bengal tiger

Crossing a wide swath of religious traditions, the Ringmaster’s readings were drawn from a variety of scriptures, including the Book of Farnsworth, the Bible of Guisel, the Upanishads, the Tao Te Ching, and, bowing to more conservative tradition, the Kama Sutra. As the couple sealed their vows, the audience erupted in a well deserved standing ovation, with dozens of overcome attendees swooning left and right.

   The vows and vowels 

Following the nuptials were the suptials; a succulent feast served in nine courses by a bevy of scantily clad waitpersons of several genders, only a few of which were easily recognizable. Along with the typical introductory courses and side dishes of pommes frit, harricot verdes mascarpone gratin, and ortolan in lemon halves was an elongated tubular cutlet of meat that tasted vaguely of capybara or giraffe, I wasn’t sure which, garnished with a coulis of beurre de cacahuète.

   Only the best for these attendees 
After the sumptuous meal, guests were offered a sampler of single malt scotches and a selection of Cuban cigars brought out by liveried servants on silver salvers, all leading up to the cutting of the wedding cake.

          The discreet, understated wedding cake under the big top

In addition to a discreet, understated wedding cake, shown above, each guest was offered an individually chosen discrete tartlet which they had to retrieve from various fairway rides, including ferris wheels and carousels. You can imagine the outcome.

              The happy couple holds their only wedding gift 

At various times the feeding frenzy was interrupted by so-called “dancing,” a Rabelaisian bacchanal that soon devolved into writhing throngs of partygoers in various degrees of deshabille conjugating furiously in twos, threes, and fours. Eventually the revelers were dispersed by the local gendarmes assisted by two National Guard brigades, after which the venue was hosed down and disinfected by a hazmat team. 

               Revelers reveling revelously 

And that’s how it happened at the Circus McGurkus.   

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Boeing Boeing at TLT

A light meal of airline fare
by Michael Dresdner

   L to R: Robert Alan Barnett, Brynne Garman, Greg Lucas   Photos by Dennis K Photography

Tacoma Little Theatre opened its 97th season last night with an early 1960’s bit of dated dating fluff called Boeing Boeing. The “parental warning” sign by the box office gives you a great heads up as to the tenor of what’s about to happen on stage. It warns that you are about to see “suggestive situations, doors slamming, and pancakes with ketchup.”

If you are looking for nuanced emotion, political correctness, or intellectual challenge, keep moving; there’s nothing for you here. What is here is heaps of rather well done physical comedy and suggestive lustiness; frenetic kissing and hugging, pratfalls, walking into slamming doors, near misses, and men whomped with purses. All this unfolds with the dynamic range, subtlety, and sensitivity of Benny Hill, replete with on-stage grappling, implied (but never seen) sex, and even the titillation of accidental homoerotic posturing.

This rather formulaic sixties tale introduces us to Bernard (Greg Lucas,) an American bachelor in his Paris apartment, and his housekeeper Berthe (Brynne Garman), who outline the setup. With Berthe’s help, Bernard is juggling three air hostesses (no, they never use the word stewardesses) whose schedules keep them from meeting or finding out that he is engaged to all three. Of course, he has no intention of marrying any of them; it’s the sixties, people, and he’s a cool Playboy type.

   L to R: Ana Bury, Robert Alan Barnett 

Gloria (Ana Bury) is an American working for TWA, Gabriella (Holly Rose) is an Italian flying for Alitalia, and Gretchen (Jana Guek) is a German with Lufthansa. Get it? All the names start with G so he can even monogram gifts and robes without the fear of slip ups. As each shows up in turn, he turns the large spinning portrait so her photo adorns the room. The recessed crown molding lighting also changes to match the color of each woman’s uniform. Yes, the play boasts that level of contrivance.

     Holly Rose and portrait 

But wait; you know this can’t last, right? Of course not. Bernard’s old friend Robert (Robert Alan Barnett) comes to visit just as the schedules of the three hostesses get rearranged. Yes, they all show up more or less at the same time (I bet you didn’t see that coming) and it falls to Robert to somehow keep the juggled balls in the air. That’s the basis for the endless funny lines, comic set-ups, and outrageous falls, leaps, and blocks, and the very talented and very entertaining Robert shoulders the bulk of it. I won’t tell you how it all resolves except to say that it maintains its utter impracticality in order to have a happy ending.

   L to R: Robert Alan Barnett, Brynne Garman 

Director Curt Hetherington chose brisk intensity over dynamic range, so the action never really lets up, which seemed to delight the heartily laughing packed house on opening night. A wonderfully appropriate set designed by Blake R. York was propped and dressed by Jeffery Weaver with just the right touches of sixties kitsch. Spot on costumes by Michele Graves added to the image, aided by period sounds (and sound effects) by Jay Biederman and appropriately unobtrusive lighting by Niclas R. Olson.  

When you need a break from serious reality, light fare like this goes down easily, especially if lubricated with the array of alcoholic temptations the lobby offers. If you promise not to overthink it, I promise you a diverting trip to the lighthearted, politically incorrect, completely improbable past that really only ever existed in the imagination of mid twentieth century adult (read “painfully adolescent”) males.

Boeing Boeing
Sept. 18 to Oct. 4, 2015
Tacoma Little Theatre

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Few Good Men at Lakewood

Quite a few, and more than good  
by Michael Dresdner  

L to R: Tice, Jenkins, Mohs-Hale, Curley     All photos by Kate Paterno-Link 
Last night, on (coincidentally?) 9/11, Lakewood Playhouse opened their 77th season  with an impressive production of Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant drama A Few Good Men. Director Beau Prichard assembled a tight, well-meshed ensemble cast that was nonetheless peppered liberally with outstanding individual performances by some ideally cast actors.  

Lance Cpl. Dawson (Aaron Mohs-Hale), a strong, natural young leader and singularly committed marine, and Pfc. Downey (K. E. Jenkins), a somewhat slow youth who trusts and follows Dawson’s leadership, are accused of murdering a fellow member of Dawson’s unit stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

L to R: Mohs-Hale, Jenkins 
They are assigned Lt. Kaffee (Jacob Tice) as their lawyer, who brings along his friend and fellow lawyer Lt. Weinberg (Jim Rogers). A prickly female lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. Callowy (Cassie Jo Fastabend) manipulates her way into the third seat of the legal team, and the interplay between the three diverse personalities provides an undercurrent to the already problematic case.

L to R: Tice, Rogers, Fastabend 
Much of the complication revolves around whether or not the hapless defendants were ordered by their superior officers to conduct a “code red,” an unofficial and illegal form of hazing used to bring weak members of a unit into line. This time it turned unintentionally deadly; hence their situation. The complication comes as their loyalty and integrity leaves them trapped between ratting out their superiors and maintaining the unit’s rather closed code of honor.

Though the prosecutor, Lt. Ross (Tom Phiel) and Kaffee are both willing to set up a plea deal of manslaughter, the boys refuse, insisting on nothing less than a plea of innocent. As the case starts to fall apart in the face of uncooperative senior officers and a lack of clear proof, the team decides to gamble it all by calling the camp’s senior officer, Jessup, to the stand.

Lt. Col. Jessup (James A. Gilletti) is a latter day George Armstrong Custer; arrogant, unyielding, and overly self-confident in his own leadership ability. It’s only by tripping him up into blurting out what he really thinks does Kaffee turn the tide of the case.

L to R: Phiel, Gilletti 
As I said, the thoroughly believable ensemble cast was very well chosen and meshed beautifully. Still, allow me the indulgence to wax effusive about just a few of the outstanding performances that particularly caught my fancy, by actors who created some disarmingly believable characters.  

Let’s start with some of the small roles. Darrel Shiley, Jr. was so spot-on in the very minor role as the quintessential military desk jockey Capt. Whitaker that it took me a while to realize the actor was one who I had shared the stage with just last season. Curtis Beech believably crafted the well-intentioned but easily coerced doctor, Cmdr. Stone. Tom Phiel held his own as the prosecutor who would rather make a deal, and must quash his reluctance to press the murky case.  

Mason Quinn did yeoman service as the rigid, single-minded, bible-quoting Lt. Kendrick, making his classic character more Marine than human, and more religious than understanding. In contrast, Christian Carvajal crafted a very believable and frankly very likeable Capt. Markinson, an older officer whose varied past assignments, some in undercover work, nurtured a Marine lifer with a rare combination of wisdom, compassion, honesty, and integrity.   

Mohs-Hale brought a quiet strength to Dawson, making his commitment, leadership, and wide-spread respect entirely believable. He is both guide and bulwark for Jenkins, playing his convincingly weaker and trusting fellow defendant Downey.

L to R: Rogers, Tice 
Jim Rogers as Weinberg created another interesting pairing; his mostly calm, common-sense persona was the yin to Kaffee’s yang, and the two balanced and completed one another beautifully. Cassie Jo Fastabend’s insistent and intentionally annoying Galloway manages to, in turn, goad and shore up the other two.

And that brings us to Jacob Tice, the play’s lead, Lt. Kaffee, and its shining light. It’s no mean feat making a well-recognized movie role your own, but Tice did it in spades. His Kaffee was perfect; a glib, easy-mannered hot-shot whose flippancy is not a cover-up for insecurity, but rather an indulgence only one with real brilliance and skill can comfortably afford. That’s a tough combination to portray, but Tice did it superbly.

A simple set by James Venturini and director Prichard works well as courtroom, jail cell, and several offices with only a few lighting (Daniel Cole) and furniture alterations. The wide range of military costumes (Frances Rankos) was no doubt made even more challenging by the fact that one of the male characters was actually played by a well-disguised female actor.

Unlike some productions in thrust configuration, Prichard’s blocking did not favor the center section but rather worked at all angles. You’ll have great lines of sight no matter where you choose to sit.

And yes, you most certainly should choose to sit somewhere. The opening night audience was a bit sparse, perhaps because it coincided with the first day of the Puyallup Fair (no, I won’t call it by its new name). This production deserves packed houses. Make it a point to be in one of them. That’s an order, private.   

A Few Good Men
Sept. 11 to Oct. 11, 2015
Lakewood Playhouse

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Lakewood

by Michael Dresdner

   Photos by Kate Paterno-Lick

At the outset, you need to know that The Mystery of Edwin Drood , the final show at Lakewood Playhouse this season, is not, as its name would imply, a dark, Dickensian piece, or even, for that matter, much of a murder mystery. It’s a campy, boisterous romp of a musical with elements of vaudeville, Gilbert and Sullivan operatic melodrama, English Panto, and old style music hall.

For instance, there’s a lead male played by a female (touted as a renowned “male impersonator”), a set of “identical twins” of different genders who could not possibly look less alike, and magnificent flashy costumes, all of which are common Panto elements. There’s a classic vaudeville “set” consisting of word play insults, a thousand-word-per-minute song a la Gilbert and Sullivan, and lots of music hall flummery.

Heather Malroy
In other words, it’s jolly, exuberant, in-your-face gaiety with a completely crumbled fourth wall. That’s right; expect the cast to talk to you, beg your participation, and all but climb into your lap in an effort to get the audience to be part of the show.

The basic conceit is a play within a play; the regulars of The Music Hall Royale are going to put on a murder mystery, so all the diverse and wacky characters who populate the venue will try to put aside their competition, squabbling, and insults for long enough to mount a semi-serious play. Obviously, that’s doomed to comic failure. Oh, they manage to eke out a bit of the story in between scene stealing, ego trips, and unrestrained song and dance, but when they come to the unfinished part of the story, they ask the audience to vote on who the killer is and who should play the various roles needed to finish the performance.

Before I get into individuals, let me say that the entire cast is excellent, though too big to name them all. All the ensemble singing and dancing was top notch, and the exuberant dance hall girls particularly compelling. The music hall troupe launched into their numbers with the eagerness of a tumble of puppies being let out into a dog park whenever they got their cue, and sometimes (intentionally) before. Ditto for the acting, and though there are too many for me to name them all, I will say that the entire cast deserves kudos before I indulge myself and call out a few of my favorites.

Steve Tarry 
First and foremost there’s Steve Tarry, who plays the role of The Chairman of the Music Hall Royale, the chief fourth wall violator. Smooth, glib, and funny, with the perfect demeanor and a snarky mien, he blithely insults both audience and fellow troupe members with his slick, non-stop patter. He is the quintessential music hall emcee, and does such a bang-up job of the role that it’s hard to imagine anyone else ever doing it as well. 

There are solid leads who play characters who, in turn, play other characters in the play-within-a-play. They include Gary Chambers as John Jaspers, Allyson Jacobs-Lake as Rosa Bud, and Brynn Garrett as Edwin Drood.

However, some of the color roles were so enchanting they caught my eye and my heart. Christopher S. Cantrell plays an absolutely delightful reprobate and sot named Durdles, while his other persona does a perfect vaudeville-style insults-with-word-play routine with Tarry in his emcee role. Jed Slaughter is wonderfully understated as the reserved Reverend Chrisparkle, while Derek Hall is charmingly pitiable as Phillip Bax, who desperately wants some day to be cast in a lead.

                   L to R: Derek Hall, Steve Tarry 

Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson did a hilarious turn full of innuendo and bawdy charm as Miss Angel Prysock (who then plays Princess Puffer.) DuWayne Andrews Jr, and Heather Malroy play the thoroughly unlikely set of  “identical” twins from Ceylon. Since no one in the cast or audience is supposed to know what someone hailing from that part of the world is really like, they are free to endow their characters with clueless absurdity. He tended toward the lead in The King and I, and she reminded me of Princess Caraboo, with her self-described comic accent of “unidentifiable geography” and the constant gyrations of a Balinese dancer.

And the production values? Amazing. Costumes too good to be believed were, not surprisingly, thanks to the redoubtable Alex Lewington. A superb orchestra was led by Deborah Lynn Armstrong and paired with excellent choreography by Heather Malroy. Lighting by Jerry Clausen and sound by Nena Curley (who is also the stage manager) blended beautifully. Lex Gernon’s elaborate set included an entire theater view with wings, curtained proscenium, audience boxes, and a stage that slid to and fro.

Incidentally, this production, directed by Chris Serface, the artistic director of Tacoma Little Theatre, is the other half of the director swap between him and John Munn, who directed Cabaret at TLT. 

Here’s what you need to take away from this: Forget the title, and forget that it is (very loosely) based on an unfinished but typically grim Dickens tale. Go expecting a no holds barred, flashy, high-spirited musical comedy with more than enough audience participation and you won’t be disappointed.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood
May 29 to June 28, 2015
Lakewood Playhouse

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cabaret at Tacoma Little Theatre

Everything… is beautiful.
by Michael Dresdner

   L to R: Kathy Kluska, Mauro Bozzo           All photos by DK Photography

For their last major show of the season, Tacoma Little Theatre has pulled out all the stops to mount an absolutely magnificent production of the musical Cabaret. With brilliant directing by John Munn and jaw-dropping performances by what can only be called the perfect cast, a packed house watched an opening night presentation so flawless you’d swear they’d been doing it for weeks. I’ll bet once the word gets out, tickets will be rare as hen’s teeth, and that’s just as it should be.

From the very second Mauro Bozzo steps out onstage and opens the show as the Emcee, he grabs the audience in the palm of his hand and never lets go. Looking glorious, his singing, acting, and movement is pure perfection, his oversized personality reaching everywhere like the tentacles of an octopus. You can’t ignore him, and you can’t avoid loving him as he gets under your skin and drags you into the seedy reality of his haunt, The Kit Kat Klub. It’s Berlin’s hottest nightclub in all possible definitions of the word, where every iteration of hedonism is indulged, its patrons largely oblivious to the dark shadow of Nazism creeping through the rest of 1931 Germany.

   L to R: Amanda Jackson, LaNita Hudson, Elise Campello, KathyKluska, Haley Kim
Backing him up are the no less amazing Kit Kat girls (Amanda Jackson, LaNita Hudson, Haley Kim, Kathy Kluska), whose stunning singing, dancing, posing, and gyrations go beyond hot, beyond sexy, and deep into titillatingly lewd. With terrific voices, downright athleletic dancing, and barely-there costumes they provide the supremely talented flesh in this fleshpot of a night spot that sets the stage for all that follows.

What follows is a group of interwoven tales of diverse denizens trying to cope. Clifford (Niclas R. Olson) is an aspiring writer from Pennsylvania, naïve and sweet, with an equally sweet singing voice. He’s soon befriended by two very different characters. First there’s Ernst (Kyle Sinclair), an affable and outgoing smuggler willing to adapt to the changing political tide like one changes his shirt, as long as it is to his advantage. 

                   Elise Campello 

Then there’s Sally Bowles (Elise Campello) the gorgeous, talented, singing and dancing headliner of the Kit Kat Klub, who pushes Clifford’s comfort zone by moving into his flat and offering more than just friendship. Campello creates a Bowles who is sizzling hot on stage and yearningly needy off; a soul adrift seeking sex and admiration to buoy her.

     L to R: Rosalie Hilburn, Joseph Grant
Their digs are owned by landlady Fraulein Schneider (Rosalie Hilburn), who along with her adoring suitor, Herr Schultz (Joseph Grant), make absolutely the sweetest old couple imaginable. But like so many human relations in this dark time and place, they, too, will be affected by the hot Nazi breath on their necks. Rounding out the tenants is Fraulein Kost (Rachel Fitzgerald), a sassy, delightful, and completely endearing prostitute who, shall we say, patriotically gives her all to the Navy.

   L to R: Rachel Fitzgerald, Rosalie Hilburn

The rest of the cast (Stephen Nishida, Addison Daniels, Derek Wisher, Jeremy Thompson, Charlie Stevens) play a variety of roles, all expertly executed. To a person, this is an amazing ensemble of triple threat actors, with more than admirable singing, dancing, and acting chops to their credit.

John Munn’s directing choices are also brilliant; variously chilling, extravagant, sizzling, and heartfelt. The final stunningly powerful scenes in both the first and second acts will take your breath away.    
This is a Kandor and Ebb musical, so of course the songs are beautiful, meaningful, and elucidating. Musical director Pamela Merritt Caldwell also leads the excellent onstage Klub band consisting of Robbie Marx, Keely Freudenstein, Tommy Hawthorne, Benjamin Marx, and even Mauro Bozzo, when he’s not onstage as Emcee.

Credit for the amazing choreography, which deserves a bow all by itself, goes to Lexi Barnett. Both the wonderful set and sound design are thanks to Blake R. York, with props, set dressing, and wigs by Jeffery Weaver. Lighting design is by Niclas R. Olson (Clifford in the cast) and a superb array of dazzlingly perfect costumes comes from designer Michele Graves. And for such a flawless opening night, we need to get stage manager Bethany Bevier and assistant Abby Lund to also take a bow, even though these jobs usually hide in the background.  

As part of a “Director’s Exchange Program” to reinforce the cohesiveness of the theatre community, Munn, the artistic director of Lakewood Playhouse, swapped places with TLT’s artistic director Chris Serface. While Munn directed Cabaret here, Serface is directing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which opens next week at Lakewood.

There you have it; an amazing musical perfomed by a devastatingly talented cast and backed up with equally top notch production values. You’d be an utter fool to miss this show.

May 22 to June 14, 2015
Tacoma Little Theatre

Saturday, May 2, 2015

For All That at Centerstage

Somme time
by Michael Dresdner

For All That, which debuted last night at Centerstage, is an epic musical as judged by a host of criteria. Written by the theatre’s artistic director Alan Bryce, it is big, bold, and evocative, with strong musical support, powerful technical backup, and a gripping subject.

Set during WWI, the story revolves around a small group of  Seaforth Highlanders from the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. Andrew (Joshua Williamson) has been away at school, a rarity, and returns to his homeland of simple farmers with eyes for Mairi (Katherine Jett) only to see her marry his brother, Donald (Cooper Harris-Turner.) The wedding celebration is cut short as all the men are called up to fight in the war. Only Andrew, as a conscientious objector, refuses to go, an act that earns him the distain of both is brother and Mairi.

We go with the men/boys as they head to basic training, then to the war. There’s bravery, comeraderie, desperation, breakdown, and ultimately, widespread death at the battle of the Somme. One by one they come to see something quite different than the superficial patriotism they reveled in at the outset. Ultimately there’s the realization that the other side is also human, that your own leaders lie, and that the war itself  brings little more than pain and destruction. Those still living, largely the women of the island, are left with the task of  picking up with life after such stunning futility and loss.

The production values, from the dramatic raked stage (Craig Wollam) and varied period costumes (Janessa Styck) through eye-popping lighting (Christina Barrigan) and copious choreography (Amy Johnson) are all outstanding. And though I mentioned only a few of them, the talented triple-threat (singing, dancing, acting) ensemble cast was more than worthy of this grand production, with almost all responsible for convincingly covering a range of varied characters. They, to a person, deserve kudos for a tough job well done.

This is a true musical in the sense that songs are varied, new, appropriate, and are demanded by the story, as opposed to being tacked on as an afterthought. From the upbeat folk songs danced to at the opening, through a range of patriotic, dark, heartfelt, and resolute offerings as the story progresses, the music is consistently excellent. Billed as by Many Hands, the program lists Joshua Zimmerman for musical direction and arrangements, and John Forster for additional music and lyrics, arrangements, and musical supervision. Live musicians are credited (Joshua Zimmerman, Ian Hughes, Andrew Pang, Matthew Goodin), paired with a complex, realistic, and varied sound track (Andy Swan.)  

By now you should have concluded that this is an excellent production that will drag you through mood changes and emotional responses, but not the sort of musical that ends with upbeat happiness. In fact, it rather leaves one with more questions than answers. Generally, with something so moving, one expects a message; some strong theme or statement that helps make sense of the experience. I’m at a loss as to exactly what Bryce means that to be.

Though billed as a love story, it is really not. Yes, there’s love, but is hardly the dominant theme, and is left largely undeveloped. So, too, is the brotherly love aspect; alluded to but again never really evolved. Sadly, the inner humanity of several key characters, the sort of thing that makes you really bond to and root for a person, is often left undeveloped and unrevealed until right before they die, or until the end of both the war and the play.

If anything, the strongest emotions one comes away with are cynicism about war itself and an overarching sadness over what we do in the name of honor and patriotism. Perhaps that’s the point.

At any rate, Bryce and company have given us a new musical that is both a moving experience and something truly worthy of  its existence. I hope it sticks around, and like most properties, goes through development and refinement as others pick it up and interpret it. At very least, it’s worth your time. Do go see it.  
For All That
May 1 to 24, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fox on the Fairway at Tacoma Little Theatre

Teed off
by Michael Dresdner

    L to R: Russell, Fry, Bolek, Ferguson, McClure, Torwick      photo by DK Photography

Farce, as its etymology suggests, is forced; over-the-top characters in similarly exaggerated situations. Fox on the Fairway, now at Tacoma Little Theatre, is unabashedly billed as such, and true to form, absurdity clings to both the plot and characters.

Playwright Ken Ludwig has written a lot of farces, but this time he left no cliché unturned, rehashing all of the elements that, when taken in moderation, provided welcome chuckles in his other plays. The convoluted plot is heavily larded with low-brow sexual humor, unlikely mood swings, and ridiculous clothing, all peppered liberally with excess shouting and frenetic physicality. Add a laugh track and you might be watching one of those lamentable yet inexplicably popular 80’s TV sitcoms like Three’s Company.   

All the action takes place in bar at a golf country club. Rival golf club presidents Henry Bingham (Andrew Fry) and Dickie Bell (George McClure) make an excessive bet on the upcoming yearly match, each believing he has an ace in the hole. Bell’s brashness extends to his outlandish clothing, consistently misquoted phrases, and a penchant for fornication, and he goads the more upright Bingham in more ways than one.

Meanwhile, new employee and secret golf whiz kid Justin Hicks (Rodman Bolek) is in love with club factotem Louise Heindbedder (Tracy Torwick). When he’s pressed into playing the tournament, he shines, until he is emotionally derailed by a glitch in their engagement. Adding to the tumult is libidinous club VP Pamela Peabody (Stacia Russell), who has a schwarm for Henry Bingham, and Henry’s wife Muriel (Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson) who conveniently feels the same way about Dickie Bell. After a few surprises, a lot of sturm und drang, and an excess of hideous golf outfits, everyone ends up, as is often the case in Ludwig plays, happy and heterosexually paired off.

The set by Burton K Yuen and scenic artist James Venturini, with stage dressing and props  by Jeffery Weaver, was elegantly spot on; beautiful and convincing. Intentionally outre outfits by costumer Michele Graves were both eye-catching and thoroughly appropriate. The same can be said for lighting (Pavlina Morris) and sound design (Darren Hembd.)

Say what you will about this genre and style but the audience on opening night spent an appropriate amount of time laughing it up. I suppose that’s a recommendation all by itself.

Fox on the Fairway
April 17 to May 3, 2015
Tacoma Little Theatre