note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Jan Nargi
Reviewed by Jan Nargi
Producers Matt Siravo and Jonathan Perry have created a tasty recipe for success at the Newport Playhouse & Cabaret Restaurant in scenic Newport, RI. For nearly 30 years they and their happy band of actors, singers, directors and crew have been serving up fun, laughs, and good times in one all-inclusive – and very affordable – package. For the price of what swankier Newport restaurants would charge for dinner alone, guests are treated to a sumptuous buffet, a light-hearted comedy, and a breezy cabaret revue complete with show tunes and vaudeville-style comic blackouts. Theater-goers can choose to forego the dinner and buy even cheaper tickets just to the play and cabaret, but at just under $50 for the whole enchilada, why not enjoy all that the Playhouse has to offer?
Now through September 16, the Newport Playhouse presents Marshall Karp’s one-act comedy “Squabbles” co-directed by Playhouse President Jonathan Perry and long-time company director Tony Annicone. Set in the Stamford, CT home of Jerry and Alice Sloan, the play gets its spark when both Abe Dreyfus, Alice’s widowed father, and Mildred Sloan, Jerry’s divorced mother, move in “temporarily” with their children and proceed to “squabble” over everything from who gets the bigger room to who gets to stay permanently. Throw in a pregnancy for Alice, a snowstorm when she goes into labor, a blackout, a Puerto Rican handyman with irritable bowel syndrome, and a governess who is a cross between the Bride of Frankenstein and Frau Blucher, and the laughs come fast and furious.
Directors Perry and Annicone never met a pratfall they didn’t like, and “Squabbles” is chock full of them. Good thing their expert cast of farceurs is game for anything. Jim Killavey as Abe and Sandra Nicastro as Mildred sling rapid-fire barbs as deftly as they whip pillows – and a stuffed monkey – at one another. Fernando Ramos as Hector Lopez finds endless comic ways to clutch his stomach and exit a room swiftly. In an all-too-brief appearance, Molly Marks as Mrs. Blucher (what, no horses neighing???) manages to make hilarious mincemeat of her Teutonic accent and cross-eyed militaristic commands. Even John Brennan as Jerry and Amy Thompson as Alice find the nonsensical humor in their rather straight-laced “second banana” characters.
“Squabbles” is no “Odd Couple” or “Sunshine Boys,” and playwright Karp is no Neil Simon. But the talented troupe at the Newport Playhouse keeps things moving quickly enough to gloss over the script’s expository drags and lags. In the end, it’s the wacky, free-wheeling cast that makes this production a joy. Start with the restaurant’s delicious buffet and end with the jaunty cabaret. It’s a full day or evening of just plain fun.
BOX INFO: Marshall Karp’s one-act comedy, “Squabbles,” appearing at the Newport Playhouse and Cabaret Restaurant, 102 Connell Highway, Newport, RI, through September 16. Matinees: Tuesday,* Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday,* and Sunday, doors open at 11:00 a.m. buffet at 11:30 a.m., show time, 1:00 p.m. Evenings: Friday, Saturday and Sunday*, doors open at 6:00 p.m., buffet at 6:15 p.m., show time, 8 p.m. *Call the Box Office for available dates. Dinner, theater and cabaret, $49.95 per person; theater and cabaret only, $34.95 per person; Friday and Sunday night specials: dinner, theater, cabaret for two, $68 inclusive. Saturday night special, $49.95 per person or $89.95 for two, includes prime rib carving station and baked stuffed shrimp. Group rates for 15 or more. Recommended for ages 13 and up. Call 401-848-7529 or visit www.newportplayhouse.com.