Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Moon Over Buffalo"

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entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"Moon over Buffalo

by Tony Annicone

The current show at MMAS is New England Repertory Company's production of Ken Ludwig's farce, "Moon Over Buffalo". It opened on Broadway on October 1,1995 and ran for 309 performances and is set in June, 1953 at the Erlanger Theatre in Buffalo, New York where George and Charlotte Hay are on tour with a repertory consisting of "Cyrano de Bergerac" and Noel Coward's "Private Lives". Fate has given this couple one more shot at starring roles in a movie epic of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and director Frank Capra himself is en route to catch their matinee performance. One of the problems is George is drunk and isn't sure of which show he is doing, creating a mixture of them both. Hilarious misunderstandings and madcap misadventures ensue all night long during this comic romp. This show sparkles and shines under the direction of Michael Kiernan who keeps his 8 member cast on the go, giving the audience much laughter.

Mike infuses the show with much physical humor and shtick to bring it to life. The show relies on situation comedy for its humor as well as sexual innuendos and a little slapstick. Some of the sight gags include putting on of trousers by someone else which looks like a humping scene and the many pratfalls on the floor and off the stage taken by Frank Bartucca as the drunken, George, plus the slamming of the doors. Michael is aided in his task by Ted Talanian who designed a gorgeous set with 4 doors and a stage curtain so the audience can see the "Cyrano" and "Private Lives" segments. Expert artistic design is by Glenn Fournier and Ken Butler. Stage manager, Alan Conaway keeps things running smoothly all night long while he also runs lights and sound with 1950's style costumes by Mary Jane McCool.

The megalomaniac, George is wonderfully played by Frank Bartucca. His portrayal is very comical in the show. Frank's wobbling legs when he falls to the floor in a stupor and his line delivery is topnotch. The sword fight choreographed by Ken Butler that George does with Charlotte at the start of the show is breath taking. Beth Goldman is fantastic as Charlotte. Her one liners and constant put downs of her snooty overbearing husband are right on target. Beth and Frank play this manic, over the top couple beautifully. Her funniest scene is when she is giving George a neck massage and some of her funny lines include "She could give milk" which is a comic barb at Eileen and another comic one is when Charlotte at the end of the show exclaims "She is beginning to look like Ed Sullivan". An added comic delight is Barbara Pettis as Charlotte's deaf mother, Ethel who refuses to wear her hearing aid. This deaf woman keeps messing things up and confusing the characters by sending them on a wild goose chase. Barbara is wonderful in this role and one wonders how she can keep a straight face with all her funny lines. Her funniest entrance is in the show within a show is when Ethel tries to save the day.

Maggie Nichols plays Rosalind , the daughter. She gives a strong portrayal of the girl who wants to escaped from the madness of the theatre or does she really want to stay? Maggie gives this girl the needed strength to pull it off and is terrific in this part. Her Private Lives sequence is hilarious. Peter Fitzgerald who last played Arnold Epstein in "Biloxi Blues", plays Howard, her weatherman fiancee. His frightened expressions, splendid line delivery and quivering voice heighten his hilarious performance. Peter changes the facial expressions at the drop of a hat and his funniest scene is when he runs in as George Patton waving a pistol around. Mario DeRosa plays Paul, George's stage manager who gets much abuse hurled upon him during the show. He does well with the physicality of his role as well as with his line delivery. Emily Snidman plays the pregnant actress, Eileen. She runs in and out of the doors, telling George what is going on with the soon to be baby. One of the funniest parts is when she tells George, her muscular hairdresser Marine brother is hunting him down with a gun. There is a surprising twist with her character at the end of the show which will leave you in stitches. The last member of the cast is Bruce Church who is their Jewish agent who wants to run off with Charlotte. What will happen to the Hays with all the craziness surrounding them? The best way to find out is by going to MMAS to see a comic production of "Moon Over Buffalo" with its topnotch cast.

"Moon over Buffalo" (4 - 20 February)
@ MMAS, 377 North Main Street, MANSFIELD MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide