The current show at the Newport Playhouse is the French farce, "Don't Dress for Dinner". This show is about Bernard planning an intimate evening with his mistress and packs his wife off to her mother's. Unfortunately his wife, Jacqueline, stays in town and his best friend is to be used as his alibi but their is a secret hidden there. Throw in two cooks, mistaken identities and some fantastic slapstick routines and you have the makings for the madcap romp that ensues. Director Harland Meltzer infuses this show with high energy, shows his expertise at comic direction so that his six member cast each has their moment to shine in this show with enough titillation for both the men and women in the audience with teddies and open robes being worn.
Harland usually directs Shakespearean shows but tackles this contemporary farce and comes up a winner with his talented cast. The constant spilling drinks, swatting at bugs, wrestling on the sofa and slapping each other are wonderful to watch. He directs the show with a deft hand wringing a lot of farcical situations for them to perform. Stage manager Stefani Arruda keeps things running smoothly all night long while running the lights and sound. Leading the cast as the husband is Rudy Sanda who plays Bernard. He is a dynamite debonair actor who plays the part in a state of high anxiety and nervousness. He has a definite flair for this comic role with fantastic facial expressions, slow burns and rapid fire line delivery. Another comic bit is his constantly changing his costumes due to other's spilling things on him. Some of Rudy's funniest scenes comes when he gets his arm caught in a door a few times, wrestling on the sofa with Kyle and as he tries to take Kyle's manhood with a pair of ice tongs in a fit of temper. His antics as the character are topnotch. I last reviewed Rudy in "Design for Living" where also did an outstanding job. Statuesque red head Doreen Cunha is Jacqueline, the long suffering wife who has a hidden secret of her own. She finds out about her husband's infidelity and is furious about it. She gets to yell and browbeat the other characters and does a wonderful job doing so. Some of her funniest moments occur when she slams Rudy's arm in the door a couple of times, grabs Kyle's butt and checks out her boobs. She mistakes Suzanne and Suzette, creating chaos in the household with the men telling lie upon lie to cover up the true happenings. She is a wonderful comedic actress who I directed in "Bedside Manners" here in 2006.
Kyle Blanchette, a terrific dramatic actor who I've reviewed in "Grace" at the Gamm Theatre, is very comical as Robert, Bernard's best friend. He is hilarious as he races around the stage trying to keep the secrets from being revealed. He is a hoot when he cowers in fear when he is threatened to be beaten up or castrated by a jealous husband. Kyle has some wonderful facial expressions and his delivery of rapid fire dialogue is priceless. Some of his lines include "really'', a booked cook and vice versa and a hooker with a cooker. One of the performers who has some of the funniest one liners in this show is pretty dirty blonde, Katherine Coolidge as Suzette, the real cook who is mistaken for the mistress. Her facial expressions are hysterical as is when she hides the hush money down her blouse. The funniest scene in the show is when the two men rip her maid outfit off and the sleeves off her blouse, pull up this tiny black skirt to transform it into evening attire, a black mini skirt. Also much laughter occurs when she leaves with a full length mink coat at the close of the show. Kathryn Furtado plays Bernard's sexy mistress, Suzanne who is a model. She is a beautiful brunette who makes this role come alive and has some clever sarcastic lines. Kathryn struts around in evening wear while making or should I say ruining dinner. She shows the jealous streak in the character perfectly as she slaps Bernard around and spills white sauce all over him which received the biggest laugh in the show. One of her funniest moments occurs when she bangs her head on a door. Last but not least is Nishan Lawton as the physically threatening character of George. Although he enters late in the second act, he delivers a powerful performance which keeps the crowd laughing at how the situation is resolved with him knocking out the two men and having all the women jump on top of him to subdue his anger. He flexes his muscles during the show. Nishan's interactions with the other performers is topnotch, too and when Kyle pays him hush money as Suzette's Uncle Robert the laughs keep coming all night long. So be sure to catch "Don't Dress for Dinner' to observe a wonderful job by this talented cast. Be sure to enjoy the delectable buffet before the show and fun filled cabaret after it.