Mansfield Music and Arts Society's first show of their fall season and performed by the New England Repertory Company, is "Enter Laughing" by Joseph Stein. It takes place in the 1930's and is based on the semi-autobiographical novel, by Carl Reiner, it centers on the journey of 17 year old David Kolowitz, a young aspiring actor who works as a delivery boy in a sewing machine factory. He tries to extricate himself from overly protective parents. They want him to be a druggist, but as soon as he's saved enough money he enlists in a hammy, semi-professional company that will put anybody in any play for the right amount of money. David is a dreadful actor who reads the stage directions as part of his opening dialogue. Hence the title of the show, "Enter Laughing" is the stage direction. The Broadway production opened on March 13, 1963 and ran 419 performances. Also a new musical version of this show is about to open on Broadway during the run of this production in Mansfield. Luckily there are no dreadful performers in this show which is wonderfully directed by theatre veteran, Mike Kiernan. The 11 performers have hilarious scenes to display to the constantly laughing audience, so the term "Exit Laughing" might work when you see this farcical comedy. Each person gets their moment to shine in each of their roles.
Leading the cast as David is high school student, Petr Favazza who is a whirlwind of energy on the stage. He is able to learn massive amounts of dialogue in this show and as Eugene in "Brighton Beach Memoirs". As David, he gets to show off the character's bad acting with hysterical results. Petr also gets to kiss and romance several girls in the show including David's true love, Wanda played wonderfully by Kate Brush with a yearning passion, Angela,the leading actress of the acting troupe, the lovely and statuesque, Maggie Nichols and with the hat clerk, Miss B., Jessica Kadish who convinces her thug-like boyfriend and owner of the hat shop, Roger to let David wear his tuxedo for the play. Jon Saphire is a hoot as he undresses onstage to his underwear to let David wear his suit. The most energetic duo in the show are Alice Springer and Brian Kelly as David's doting parents. She runs a guilt trip on him and the father meekly agrees with her or is cajoled into it. Great acting dynamics between these two performers. Another scene stealing performance is by Bruce Church as the head of the acting troupe. He is aghast at how horrible David is as an actor and continually drinks booze from his flask with a straw sticking out of his jacket pocket. As Marlowe, Bruce tries to show David how to walk and talk properly while, he garners many laughs.
s The concerned, Jewish boss, Mr. Forman is well played by Joe LaGreca. He constantly chides David for being late and his lack of attention to his job and his parents. The prayer shawl scene is hilarious. David's best friend, Marvin, in the sewing factory is wonderfully played by Ted Harris, who is a junior in high school. He continually wants to find out how David's acting career is going as well as his love life. A couple of scenes that are very funny are where he mistakenly brings David the prayer shawl instead of the tuxedo and where he bites an apple then offers it to David. Petr's real life sister, Alina plays Pike, the bitchy stage manager who constantly yells at David and the other performers. Jessica and Alan Conway play lawyers in the show. Alan also is the stage manager of the actual show. The unit set is by Glenn Fournier and Gary Poholek with lighting design by Ken Butler and costumes by Mary Jane McCool. The acting coach for this show is Tom Hunter. So for a trip back to New York in the 1930's be sure to catch "Enter Laughing". You will be glad you did.