Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Goodbye Charlie"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"Goodbye Charlie"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Newport Playhouse is "Goodbye Charlie", a farce by George Axelrod written in 1959. When it opened on Broadway, it starred Lauren Bacall and Sydney Chaplin while Debbie Reynolds and Tony Curtis starred in the 1964 movie version. Charlie was a callous womanizer, a demon lover, a connoisseur of wines and the possessor of a fine backhand. He met his end trying to escape through the porthole of a cuckold's yacht. Now Charlie has returned as a woman and his big problem is trying to change his personality from male to female. The transformation of attitudes, gestures and expressions is very humorous. Posing as Charlie's wife, his female reincarnation meets several of his mistresses and begins a collection for a memorial to Charlie at $20,000 a piece. Meanwhile Charlie's best friend begins to feel differently towards the new Charlie. Axelrod shows God has a sense of humor when he sent the playboy Charlie back to earth as a woman.(Think of Charlie, the character on television's "Two and a Half Men" and you get the idea of this Charlie.) Director Bruce Lackey casts these roles beautifully. The set is by Fred Davison and is Charlie's beach house, a few miles north of Malibu, California. The set has light green papered walls, a bar and sofa with French door entrance on stage right and a bed and doorway to the bathroom on stage left. (Fred also plays Charlie's accountant, Mr. Shriber and gets the first laugh in the show with his line "Charlie owes over a million in back taxes.") Stage manager Hen Zannini keeps things moving smoothly all night long..

Bruce does a marvelous job with his direction of this farce.He thinks up many clever moments of shtick to keep the audience laughing. The show gives a twist on the male-female perspectives. Kim Stamoulis stars as Charlie who gets a second chance at life. She walks very butch at first with a swagger as the "new" Charlie, wearing just a raincoat with boxer shorts and also sits like a man with her legs spread wide. One of the funniest scenes occurs when Kim as Charlie has her way with George by throwing him on the sofa, knocking the cushions onto the floor and her walking uncomfortably in high heels is a hoot, too. Later on she gets into the shopping mode and dresses up in one of the silliest outfits available and George tells her she looks like a chicken. Another funny moment comes when George who is upset with her exclaims to just punch her in the jaw because she can take it like she did before. She hurls him to the floor and climbs on top of him in triumph.This episode left the audience laughing out loud. Kim drinks martinis non-stop in the second act and gets to play a drunk scene. She also plays a girly girl in one scene,too. Jason Naylor who is tall, blond and handsome plays George wonderfully, doing a lot of physical humor in his role. He retains his cool subtlety and debonair manner throughout the show. The bond between the two that once was manly camaraderie begins to slip into a very compatible, but hands-off, relationship, scaring themselves when they get too close. One of his best moments is when Kim pursues him around the sofa and he keeps tripping over things. Jason is Connecticut resident who is performing at the Newport Playhouse for the first time. Marshall Duran is the sexy red head Rusty who's husband killed Charlie, the man while she was having an affair with him. She does an excellent job in this role as the gold-digger who runs the gamut of emotions from shocked to aghast to insulted. Marshall excels in this part as her beauty is only exceeded by her talent. Rusty exclaims that she would have married Charlie but he never asked her or said he loved her. Marshall steals many a scene with her talented portrayal! One of her funniest lines is "I always wanted to be Mrs. Somebody, Somebody. (Marshall is a topnotch baker having made a Boston Creme birthday cake for Bruce.) Jonathan Perry is Charlie's attorney, intent on wrapping up matters before the memorial service. Jackie Marchetti is the constantly weeping, Franny. (She performs"Someone to Watch Over Me", a tear jerker number in the cabaret wonderfully, too.) The last mourner, Irving who was Charlie's agent is played by Nishan Lawton. So for a funny show, a fun-filled cabaret afterwoods and an excellent buffet before it, prepared by topnotch chef Sue Raposa, be sure to catch "Goodbye Charlie" before the show says goodbye for good. (The pasta and the meatballs seemed to be the most popular item in the buffet, having to be refilled constantly.)

"Goodbye Charlie" (15 July - 23 August)
NEWPORT PLAYHOUSE
104 Connell Highway, NEWPORT RI
1 (401) 848-PLAY

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