Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Bull in A China Shop"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"Bull in A China Shop"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The opening show of Theatre Works' 27th season is C.B. Gilford's "Bull in a China Shop". When six sweet but balmy old ladies discover that a handsome bachelor lives across the street, they are delighted. When they learn that he is none other than Detective Dennis O'Finn, of Homicide, they are faced with the problem of how to attract his attention. The answer is simplicity itself: a nice genteel homicide with a cup of tea as the murder weapon. When a brash young woman reporter begins to suspect the truth, she becomes the next target. O'Finn is terribly embarrassed when at last he discovers that he himself is the motive for these madcap goings-on, and, in desperation, manages to solve the case. But the dear old ladies are too fond of him and in the end turn the tables on him or do they? First a short story in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, later a success on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and now a stage veteran of hundreds of performances around the country, "Bull in a China Shop" continues to enchant audiences everywhere! It is reminiscent of "Arsenic and Old Lace" except these ladies use tea and buttermilk instead of Elderberry wine. Paul Adam casts the best 12 people for these roles.

Paul blocks the show beautifully utilizing every part of the playing area. He also gives them some clever shtick to do like the old ladies staring at O'Finn's butt when he looks at the murder victim on the sofa. The character acting of these women is amazing and they mimic old ladies voices perfectly. The lovely set is by Mark Anderson and resembles an old fashioned home with the gorgeous furniture supplied by Fred and Alice Reinhardt. All of the costumes are by Sharon Charette especially impressive are the ladies colorful outfits and hats. Hard working stage manager, Connie Anderson keeps things running smoothly all night long while her son, Josh Smith handles the sound. Congratulations to Josh and his beautiful wife, Tina on the birth of their daughter, Isabella Yvonne on August 29. Ed Benjamin III plays Detective O'Finn. He is tall, dark and handsome so the ladies have an easy time swooning over him in this show. His facial expressions are wonderful and his double takes and astonishment at their antics is priceless. Ed narrates some of the show which is told in flashbacks and there is a clever twist at the end. (Kudos to Ed who learned this huge role with many lines in only 8 days!)

The character acting in this show is topnotch.The scene stealing old ladies are Mary Concannon, Lynn Nadrowski, Lydia Mattera, Kathy Irons, Chip Winslow and Connie Plotkin. They all play old maids in the show and are very funny in their roles. Not wanting to divulge too much information about each woman, I'll give a brief description of them. Mary is Miss Amantha who feels motherly towards O'Finn, Lynn is Miss Birdie who wears a funny wig, wiggles her butt, swoons at the detective and owns the binoculars that they use to spy on him and Lydia is Miss Lucy who hasn't been thrilled by a man since Herbert 40 years ago. she wears a funny gray wig. Kathy is Miss Hildegarde who owns the boarding house, is a cheapskate, likes to boss the other women around (she is small in stature but delivers the goods in this role), Chip is Miss Nettie who is a ditsy blonde, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and Connie is Miss Elizabeth who won't share the binoculars with the other women. Rounding out the cast is Timothy Delisle as Detective Kramer who helps O'Finn see what is really happening, Brandi Davis as Jane Rogers the bitchy and nosey reporter who sets her sights on O'Finn, Mark Anderson, Connie's husband plays the fingerprinting cop, Johnson and Andrew Mattera, Lydia's son and Bill Beatini are the stretcher bearers . So for an exciting evening of a comic mystery with many twists and turns, be sure to catch "Bull in a China Shop.

"Bull in A China Shop" (18 - 27 September)
THEATRE WORKS
142 Clinton Street, WOONSOCKET RI
1(401) 766-1898

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