Theatre Mirror Reviews - "PLAZA SUITE"

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Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2016 by Susan Nedar


Reviewed by Susan Nedar

The current offering from Rhode Island’s favorite Dinner Theater is “Plaza Suite,” the 1968 Neil Simon romp which takes place at New York. NY’s Plaza Suite. The play is written as three vignettes, all taking place in suite #719 (or is it #819?)

Without giving away the many belly laughs, suffice to say that Neil Simon, knows how to write a comedy! What do a long-time married couple on the verge of a break-up, a Hollywood producer in search of a little out-of-town fling, and a neurotic bride locked in a bathroom on her wedding day (to the horror and chagrin of her parents) all have in common? You guessed it! Plaza Suite Hotel, suite #719.

Directed by local theater icon Tony Annicone, Plaza Suite is no disappointment. Tony keeps the laughs and the pace moving throughout this three-act show. He carefully directs his talented cast to hit the punch lines in a way that would make Mr. Simon proud! I was especially impressed with Tony’s keen design eye, in that this show takes place in the 1960’s, and the set and costumes were fabulously spot-on!

This funny cast is comprised of; long-time Newport Playhouse funny lady Sandra Nicastro, who doubles up roles – plays Karen Nash in the first vignette, and Norma Hubley in the third vignette. Sandra is one of those comedic actresses who, with just a facial expression, can make you guffaw. Her comedic timing is impeccable, as well as her physical comedy. Sandra plays opposite Rick Bagley in both vignettes. Rick, for the most part is Sandra’s straight man, but make no mistake – where Simon writes a joke for him, Rick delivers. Together, they are your typical, funny, Neil Simon married couple!

In vignette #1, we do not see typical Neil Simon comedy writing, in that it’s not all about the laughs. There is an uncomfortable situation brewing here. Nicastro and Bagley pull it off perfectly as Karen and Sam Nash. The topic of their discomfort is Sam’s “young… and thin” secretary, Jean McCormack, played by Olivia Sahlin. There are many one-liners, brilliantly delivered by Nicastro, to the perfectly stoic Bagley. Although the situation becomes uncomfortable, the funny lines certainly do not.

In vignette #2, Hollywood producer Jesse Kiplinger is played by Philip D. Clarke, opposite Olivia Sahlin who plays the star-struck, Muriel Tate. In this vignette, Clarke and Sahlin crackle with chemistry. Clarke, does a great job disguising the lust with innocent charm, while Sahlin portrays the starry-eyed, and unhappy housewife to hilarious perfection. Will they, or won’t they? You’ll have to see it to find out.

Vignette #3 features Nicastro and Bagley as Norma and Roy Hubley, with Sahlin as the distraught bride. A very, VERY funny exchange between them ensues. Here is where we see Bagley’s comedy talents, as he convinces us that somehow, some way, this wedding MUST go on! The anachronisms in this act are cute, in that there is much talk of how much money Roy has invested in his daughter’s wedding.

Rounding out the cast is Jeff Blanchette, who appears in each vignette as The Bellboy, The Waiter, and The Groom. Kudos to Jeff for differentiating each of these characters, and playing each one spot on.

In closing, Plaza Suite is a rollicking fun time, and I most certainly recommend it!

Plaza Suite continues now through October 9, 2016. Be sure to call today for your delicious buffet, and this very funny show!

BOX INFO: Newport Playhouse and Cabaret Restaurant
102 Connell Highway • Newport • Rhode Island • 02840
Purchase tickets online or call (401) 848-PLAY (7529) •

Susan Nedar
Footlights Repertory Co., Inc.

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide