Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Happy Birthday"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Happy Birthday"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Newport Playhouse is "Happy Birthday" by Marc Camoletti and adapted by Beverly Cross.. The show is a British comedy about Bernard who has asked his mistress Brigit, to his home on her birthday despite the fact that his wife Jacqueline is present. To lull his wife's suspicions, he has also invited his oldest friend Robert and asked him to complete the cover up by pretending that Brigit is his own mistress. Robert refuses but Bernard tricks him into it. By chance, a temporary maid who Jacqueline has engaged for the evening arrives while husband and wife are out and Robert mistakes her for Bernard's mistress since her name is Brigit, too. Thus, the foundations for a shaky edifice has been laid for mistaken identities, plots, counter plots and bedrooms are changed round with ever increasing confusion until an unexpected ending is reached. Sandy Cerel makes the show into a comic romp with her sight gags and farcical situations. She picks the best five people for these wild and crazy roles which leaves the audience laughing all night long.

Sandy's cast all have topnotch British accents and she gives them wonderful blocking to aid in the merriment. Her hard working stage manager Steff Arruda keeps the show moving smoothly all night long. The fantastic set is by Fred Davison and consists of a country home in London with six doors. Rick Bagley commands the stage as Bernard as he gets into constant hot water by his dimwitted friend, Robert. He has many funny lines and situations including every time he tries to kiss his mistress the wife seems to show up winning him sustained laughter. Bernard also jumps out a kitchen window injuring his foot because of Robert's warning by singing "When I'm 64". Doreen Cunha, a statuesque brunette, plays the long suffering wife, Jacqueline who has her own secret up her sleeve. She gives the other characters a tongue lashing when she erupts in anger and plays this role with gusto. Doreen's funniest line comes when she tells Robert "Aw shutup". She also has a couple of funny kissing scenes that are interrupted. The two Brigits are wonderfully played by Katherine Coolidge and Sara Dunn. Katherine is a sexy strawberry blonde who has many clever and sarcastic lines which she delivers beautifully. She wears her hair in banana curls and when she is mistaken for the maid, she explains that she knows nothing about vacuums but knows her way around a bed. Katherine wears a white body hugging dress and top as well as a gorgeous, low cut red gown and a short purple nightie. Sara, a gorgeous brunette, steals many a scene having lavish gifts bestowed upon her to keep her mouth shut about the activities in the household. How she earns her hush money and mink coat is hilarious as are her comical facial expressions. Sara's topnotch cockney accent works wonders for this character. She steals many a scene in this madcap role. Nishan Lawton is the hapless Robert who gets caught up in this crazy situation. He has many tongue twisting lines which he delivers with ease. There is a funny dancing segment in the second act that is priceless. Needless to say giving away any more details would spoil the surprising twists and turns of the script.The mouth watering buffet before the show is freshly prepared by Sue Raposa with homemade meatloaf as the specialty for this show while a fun filled cabaret is immediately after the show. So for a fun filled British farce, be sure to catch "Happy Birthday" at the Newport Playhouse.

"Happy Birthday" (3 April - 9 May)
NEWPORT PLAYHOUSE
@ 102 Connell Highway, NEWPOET RI
1(401)848-PLAY

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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