Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Miser" & "The Imaginary Invalid"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"THE MISER"
&
"THE IMAGINARY INVALID"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The fall show at Hendricken Theatre is 2 one act Moliere farces, "The Miser" & "The Imaginary Invalid" are rhymed verse adaptations of Moliere's comedies by Tim Mooney. This modern version of both shows abound with laughter. "The Miser" is about Harpagon who loves nothing so much as his money not even his own children. So even though his son and daughter have fallen in love and are about to declare their intentions to their intended suitors who are young, vital partners when the miser announces his own wedding plans:he, to the girl with whom his son is in love, and his wealthy friend, to his daughter. After a few rollicking laps around the block in which the miser's hidden treasure figures, it is revealed that the rich friend is the long-lost father of the boy who loves the miser's daughter and of the girl who is loved by the miser's son. This show explores the fine line between money and love and the consequences of valuing the former over the latter. "The Imaginary Invalid" is about a famous hypochondriac who not only complains about a million imaginary ills, but also of his astronomical medical bills. If he marries his daughter to a doctor, he reasons, he will have free medical care. Monsieur Argan chooses a numbskull, Thomas, without consulting his daughter, Angelique who is already smitten with another. The inventive maid Toinette, with his brother, Beralde, exposes the doctor and his father as charlatans and she demonstrates to her master that his second wife, Beline loves his money not him. Thus are truth and love triumphant and all troubles real and imaginary, relieved by laughter. Directors Michael Miele and Brian Codeiro cast the best students in these roles with both shows winning many accolades and a standing ovation as their reward in these French farces. The unit set is by Brother John Kiernan while the multitude of costumes are by Mrs. Janice Nagle especially impressive are the 1930's costumes for "The Miser".

Michael and Brian supply their casts with many slapstick routines and pratfalls. Their high energy casts deliver them all splendidly. Michael and Brian add present day nuances and innuendos so current day audiences can relate to the situations.(Michael is a former student of Brian's at Hendricken and is currently a senior theatre major and the school in conjunction with URI directing project lead by Professor Bryna Wortman and this show is his senior project.) They are commedia dell'arte which is a mixture of vaudeville and melodrama. Michael sets the show in the 1930's and has his cast strike cutesy poses from that era. Harpagon is marvelously played by senior Graham Duff who commands the stage in this antiheroic role playing a 60 year old man with gray sprayed in his hair. He is hilarious as the money grubbing man while his costume reflects his wealth.One of the funniest moments comes when his money box is stolen and when asked who he thinks took it, looks directly at the audience and accuses everyone. Another scene stealer in this show is Billy Cavanagh as the chef with a French accent and a handlebar moustache. Harpagon finally has him arrested after he beats the crap out of him several times. Kevin Gray is a hoot as Simon, the imp who has really stolen the money box to help out the miser's children The four young lovers deftly navigate the twists and turns of their relationships and are well played by the quartet. His worst moment against his children comes when the miser sets them up with a rich widow and widower. The hapless son, Cleante and daughter,Elise of the miser are wonderfully played by Luke LaMontagne and Jade Genga The scene where they turn the tables on their father is hilarious and since it is a comedy the lovers triumph over the greedy skinflint in the end. The steward and her true love, Valere is well played by Jim Anesta while pretty blond haired, Jess Keane is topnotch as the 1930's ingenue. The matchmaker Frosine is wonderfully played by Annalisa Carmosino, who runs around the theatre in a gypsy style costume in and out of the doors of the theatre. The widower is well played by Andrew Osmanski who enters with a fake black beard before revealing his true identity.

Brian uses a funny rap song and a robot like dance number to conclude "The Imaginary Invalid" and has his cast do their bows as they each climb on the bed in center stage. The Miser" cast joins in an energetic dance for the final curtain call, too. The hypochondriac, Argan is onstage alone during the first few minutes of the show and is played by Alex McKhann who is dressed in long johns and a nightgown, looking like Scrooge. He delivers this long segment and his part perfectly while doing so. Alex is a hoot as he walks around with a walker, two canes and in a wheelchair at different points in the show. He gobbles down pills and has every ailment under the sun. The doctors and his wife are in it for their monetary reward. Beralde, his brother is wonderfully played by Ron Truman Kitts says one should take care of one's own health and not depend heavily on quack doctors advice. Toinette insists Angelique marry the man she loves not the stupid doctor that her father has chosen for her. Alexandra Andrews makes her the wise, cynical and capable servant who can see through the facade of the quacks and her final test of Beline and Angelique proves who really loves Argan. Angelique and her guitar playing, Elvis Presley type boyfriend, Cleante are marvelously played by Sarah Anderson and Elliot Colantuono who get to sing a song called Phyliss while declaring their love for each other. The gold-digger trophy wife is wonderfully played by Erika Pistaccio, a statuesque blonde who makes her into a cunning woman and she has many funny glances to the audience as her disdain for her husband who loves getting an enema. Argan's youngest daughter, Louison is played by Niamh Molloy who does pirouettes around the stage while dressed in a funny yellow ballet outfit. Dr. Diafoirus is clad in black like Darth Vader played by Ward Pettibone while his nerdlike son wearing glasses is played by Brian Gould. Andrew Nelson sings the rap song that closes the show which confers a doctor's degree to Argan so he will let his family live in peace. So the adage that laughter is the best medicine applies when viewing both of these comedies. Be sure to catch Moliere comedies that will keep you in stitches from start to finish. Tell them Tony prescribed it.

"The Miser" & "The Imaginary Invalid" (12 - 14 November)
BISHOP HENDRICKEN HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE
2615 Warwick Avenue, WARWICK RI
1 (401)739-3450 x 172

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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