Little Theatre of Fall River's latest show is Neil Simon's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers". This comedy is about 47 year old Barney Cashman, a seafood restaurant owner, who has been married for 23 years but wants to experience sex with another woman before its too late. He has encounters with three different women at his mother's old fashioned apartment with the same result each time. Janice MacDonald directs all three scenes with a deft hand making the audience howl with laughter at the antics of Barney and his three dates, taking you on a merry ride in this well written comedy.
50 year member Janice MacDonald casts these four roles perfectly. This is her fifth time working on a Neil Simon show. She makes each of the three women different from each other so the audience knows the character thoroughly. Janice also casts a versatile leading man who handles the growth of Barney in each segment. He makes the transition from uncertain to knowing what he wants by the end of the show. She shows how Barney sees the full circle his life takes in these three scenes. And maybe life with his wife,is what he really wants after all. Jeff Belanger makes Barney Cashman into a person the audience roots for. His first attempt at romance is thwarted by a woman who wants to do it quickly without any personal data thrown in and is cold and unfeeling. The second is a wacky encounter with a young dope smoking actress who is out of control. The final is a family friend who is under psychiatric care and makes him realize his wife is the person he really wants. Jeff handles each scene beautifully. He shows his strength as an actor during the first scene with his massive monologue when he explains why he wants to have a fling because he married his high school sweetheart who he has known since he was 16. He only had one fling before marriage with a 44 year old woman. Jeff makes this monologue shine by building the emotions from start to finish and his vow of never trying this again is a powerful ending to the it. He handles the dope smoking scene and the final confrontation scene with the same intensity of the first one. Jeff delivers the goods in this enormous role of appearing in over 60 pages.
Pamela Morgan, a statuesque brunette, plays the sexy, chain smoking, hard drinking Elaine. She makes this hard as nails New York broad come to life as she bosses and pushes Barney around the apartment. Pam as Elaine wants sex and she wants it now with no questions asked. Elaine has had many men before and Barney is just one more. Pam's character brings about the change in Barney when he goes from being timid to throwing her into a chair as he takes control of the situation. Pam displays this transition splendidly which makes the first scene memorable. Jen Bellanti plays Bobbi, the dope smoking actress perfectly. Her gangbuster, high energy entrance continues for the entire scene. Jen makes this scene hilarious with Jeff's reactions to her crazy behavior. Bobbie's constant stories about her Nazi voice teacher who is her lesbian roommate, her boyfriends, one with sharpened teeth and the other one being a politician who stole her dog, are laugh out loud moments. The only way she can relax is by smoking dope which is prescribed by a California doctor. Bobbi finally gets Barney to smoke with her with hilarious results. They both end up singing "What the World Needs Now". This scene contains some of Simon's funniest one liners and Jen and Jeff make them all hit pay dirt.Deborah Sadler plays Jeannette, the high strung neurotic family friend. She bursts into the apartment clutching her purse which Barney finally rips out of her hands. Deb makes the dowdy, manic depressive, Jeannette into a comic gem when she swills down her pills, yells at Barney saying there are no decent people in the world and there is too much promiscuity. Barney exclaims that he isn't getting any of the promiscuity. The intensity of the scene leads both of them to realize their happiness lies in their marriages.All three women have excellent chemistry with Jeff, making this into the successful production it is. I have enjoyed working on 14 Neil Simon shows and I directed this one back in 2008. So for a hilarious Neil Simon show, be sure to catch "Last of the Red Hot Lovers".