Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Moon Over BuffaloThe Players Centre for Performing Arts
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's reviews of Oedipus, A Little Night Music and The Secret Garden


Chris Caswell and Lynne Doyle
Photo by Cliff Roles
The Players Centre for Performing Arts continues its 2017-2018 season centered around backstage looks at theater and movies with Ken Ludwig's Moon Over Buffalo. A few years ago this same company opened with an outstanding production of the same playwright's magnum opus, Lend Me a Tenor. This production, while entertaining, is not quite in the same league. Director Pam Wiley has not been able to get her cast to execute the farcical script with the tightness that lifts funny to the level of hilarious. Although conceived in three acts, this production presents the play in two acts, with an intermission between act one and two. The first act setup is not as funny as the later antics, and this is where this cast runs a bit amuck, with stretches of dull here and there. After the intermission, the script comes into its own and the audience begins its more madcap ride.

Chris Caswell is George Hay, a touring actor who gets a chance to give his inner ham a walk in the park. Caswell's third act drunk scene is terrific, giving vent to behaviors he wouldn't dare try out in a courtroom (he is a lawyer by profession). Lynne Doyle, who plays George's wife Charlotte, is a fine actress. I've seen her mostly in small supporting roles (Big Mama in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible). I seem to have missed her performances in leading roles (Wit and Doubt). She acts the part well, letting the funny situations get their laughs, but in a part written for Carol Burnett, I would like to see a more natural comic bent, which is not Ms. Doyle's forte.

Anne Gundersheimer plays Charlotte's mother Ethel, hard of hearing, and stealing just about every scene she is in. Cindy Schlotterback plays George and Charlotte's daughter Rosalind, who tries desperately to escape the magnetic pull of acting. Her scene in the play within a play as she desperately tries to vamp while her father is not making his entrance as expected called to mind several stage mishaps from my own long ago acting career. Scott Ehrenpreis is her ex-husband, still with the troupe. It is kind of a milquetoast role, but he gets some mileage out of it. Phillip Troyer as Rosalind's fiancé Howard, a weatherman, gets my seasonal award (so far) as most improved actor. He is perfect as a not particularly forceful (think metrosexual here) male. He is showing much more presence on stage than when I first laid eyes on him back in the days of Starlite Players. In fairly thankless parts, Kiara Kincheloe plays Eileen, who has caught the wandering eye of George, and Peter Salefsky is lawyer Richard, who might yet catch the eye of Charlotte, depending on how things play out..

If Pam Wiley had been able to tighten things up, with less air between one character's leaving and the next one coming through a different door on Michael Newton Brown's excellent set, and added a little more sass, this would be entertaining on a level it is not now. Jared E. Walker provides excellent costumes, including a Chanel-like suit for Rosalind. George's Cyrano (de Bergerac) costume is pretty funny in and of itself. Lighting design by Daniel Polk is fine, with the play within a play in which they are supposed to be starting Noël Coward's Private Lives awash in faux moonlight, perfect for Amanda's opening line "Extraordinary how potent cheap music is."

Moon Over Buffalo at Players Centre provides some entertainment and laughs, badly needed in these trying times.

Moon Over Buffalo runs through November 19, 2017, at The Players Centre for Performing Arts, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL. Box Office: 941-365-2494. For more information visit www.theplayers.org.

Cast:
George Hay: Chris Caswell
Charlotte Hay: Lynne Doyle
Ethel: Anne Gundersheimer
Rosalind: Cindy Schlotterback
Howard: Phillip Troyer
Eileen: Kiara Kincheloe
Paul: Scott Ehrenpreis
Richard: Peter Salefsky

Director: Pam Wiley
Stage Manager: Alisha Tyler-Lohr
Set Design: Michael Newton Brown
Props: Martha Kesler
Technical Director: Ken Junkins
Lighting Design: Daniel Polk
Costume Designer: Jared E. Walker


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