Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Two by Two and TV Too
The first half of the production is given over to Ancient Oaks by Jo Morello, a short one-act play. At 1/2 hour, the play allows for more character and plot development than anything previously attempted by the company. The story revolves around a 60ish man, his girlfriend, his manipulative mother, and a friend of his who lives in a retirement community that they would like the mother to move to. The script has some very sure laugh lines, a few of which were lost on opening night, unfortunately, but the characters are not particularly original. None of this matters because of the delightful acting by Preston Boyd as Al Fontaine, Betty Robinson as his mother Ruth, Jenny Aldrich Walker as girlfriend Barbara Logan, and Bob Trisolini who cuts a nice figure at his first entrance in tight-fitting toreador or tango pants. Cindy Schlotterback is heard off-stage as a Reservation Agent. Director Don Walker has paced things well to keep the audience amused.
The second half begins with Wholly Moses by Richard J. Budin, in which David Meyersburg as Moses returns again and again to demand more and more from God, played by Robert Ennis Turoff (a role he has been waiting his entire career to play), who grows more and more exasperated. I kept flashing back to Ringling International Arts Festival 2014 and a production called The Table in which a bunraku puppet portrayed Moses. The biblical Moses was argumentative but always respectful toward God, but it is only a quick jump to these humorous portrayals of him. As directed by Jenny Aldrich Walker, Wholly Moses is 10 minutes of guffaws, and the audience responded strongly.
Next up is Homecoming for Jenny by Marvin Albert, wherein daughter Jenny, played by Eve Marie Caballero, returns home after a long absence to tell Momma, played by Jenny Aldrich Walker, about her forthcoming marriage to another woman. While the play doesn't cover any fresh territory vis a vis coming out to parents, the delightful acting keeps things entertaining. Ms. Aldrich Walker, who gets the MVP award for October (roles in two plays and directing a third) brings great warmth and heart to the mother. Homecoming for Jenny is directed by Bob Trisolini who gets a tip of the hat for his acting and directing in the evening's entertainment.
Last up is How I Met The Sopranos by Irene L. Pynn and directed by Tim Guerrieri, in some ways the most ambitious script attempted by The Starlite Players. It has a cast of three, a News Anchor engagingly played by Neil Levine, and a Man and a Woman, played by Michael Kinsey and Marta McKinnon, who cover multiple roles with quick costume changes. The script examines the series finale of a fictional beloved TV series while jabbing at the sound bite mentality of TV news. This is a very strong script, funny but with a strong point of view. I don't mean to grouse, but the Sarasota theater community has got to find more ways to keep the super talented Mr. Kinsey on the boards and the delightful Ms. McKinnon away from WBTT's concession stand.
As I arrived at The Starlite Lounge, I ran into owner and Starlite Players sponsor Tyler Yurkonis, and I asked him for any comments about the company. He is quite proud of how things are going and has great hopes for the future. He also shared with me that his desire in the early going was to keep things locallocal playwrights, local actorsas there is such a pool of talent in our area. I enjoyed sharing his vision. One of the great pleasures for me, as I travel around this region, is to see performers whom I admire, as they move among different venues and talent pools. Thank you, Mr. Yurkonis, for your devotion to The Starlite Players who could not have gotten off the ground without you.
Two by Two and TV Too, plays through October 11, 2015, presented by The Starlite Players at The Starlite Room, 1001 Cocoanut Avenue, Sarasota, FL. For more information, visit www.starliteplayers.com.
Producing Artistic Director: Jo Morello