The Renaissance City Theatre Inc., the producing entity at the Granite Theatre's current show is Neil Simon's "45 Seconds from Broadway", a look at the behind the scenes action in show business. It takes place near the heart of the theatre district in legendary "Polish Tea Room", really the Edison Hotel coffee shop on New York's 47th Street. Here Broadway theatre personalities gather and schmooze. The authentic set by David Jepson offers enough nostalgia and opportunities for a parade of colorful comic characters to march in and out of this cafe. Simon's characters are all different from each other and give this two act four scene play it's power as a comedy peppered with hilarious one liners. Each of the four seasons of the year represent each scene, starting with the summer. Veteran director Cait Calvo chooses the best performers for these 12 roles and lets the laughter flow in this comic romp.
Michael Thurber shines in the leading role of Mickey Fox, the Borscht belt-type Jewish comedian who hangs out at the "Polish Tea Room" where he meets a variety of comic people during the course of the show. His Jewish accent is topnotch and he delivers his one liners and interacts with everyone splendidly. Michael delivers a tour-de-force performance in this role. Some of his funniest lines include "I discovered me", "The Rain in Spain produced a sunburned turkey", "She looks like Harpo Marx's mother" about Rayleen and his leering looks at Charlie are priceless. The owners of the coffee shop, Bernie and Zelda, are wonderfully played by Jim Kenney and Patricia Spencer-Smith. They escaped from the Nazis many years ago. Bernie's kindness extends to free meals and jobs for budding playwrights and actresses. Jim and Patricia handle their comic lines with ease. Othniel Clarke as Solomon Mantutu, an aspiring South African playwright and Stephanie Rodger as Megan, an actress-wannabe do wonderful jobs in their roles, with each of them earning success for their characters by the end of the show. His play has been published and she gets a role in "Arsenic and Old Lace". Their portrayals are spot on and they win you over with their acting ability.
Lynne Price steals the show with her wacky one liners as a demented grande dame, Rayleen. Her fur coat costume seems to grow bigger and wilder each time she enters the cafe. The fox fur seems to grow longer and longer. Rayleen demands a table cloth and an intricately double brewed cup of tea. One of her funniest lines is when she tells her mute husband to stop thinking in French. Sustained laughter greeted this line as well as many of Lynne's lines about calling for a reservation and how the tea must be brewed. Her hen pecked husband, Charles is played perfectly by her real life husband, Rance Price. Charles becomes the mouse who roared in the second act. He reveals a secret when he does speak which startles the other characters and the audience who thought he was mute. His character also supplies the show with a surprising twist near the end of the show, giving a warmhearted finish to this comic show.
Two other scene stealers are Veronica Strickland and Carrie Heise as Arleen and Cindy who are suburban theater mavens and two self designated theater critics. They provide some of the biggest laughs with their running commentary throughout the show. Arleen invests in a show called "My father is a grape" which is hilarious. Rounding out the cast are strong supporting players, Tiffany T. Fenton as Bessie, a self confident actress on her way to Hollywood who tells Megan that an actor must always keep on learning never be too satisfied with yourself, John Lamar as British producer, Andrew Duncan who wants Mickey to play Tevye in "Fiddler" and Frank Pendola as Mickey's brother, Harry who wants Mickey to get his 41 year old son, Steven into show biz. So for another truly funny comedy from Neil Simon, the master of comic writing, be sure to catch "45 Seconds from Broadway" in Westerly.