Walpole Footlighters closing show of their 87th season is "Rough Crossing" by Tom Stoppard.Set in the 1930's on an ocean liner sailing across the Atlantic, Stoppard's hilarious adaptation of Ferenc Molnar's "Play at the Castle" tells the story of a musical-comedy writing team and their young, speech-impaired composer, who are on a deadline to complete their new piece during their four-day crossing. Their cast, a haughty leading lady and her vain leading man, along with a peripatetic ship steward aren't helping matters, and it's questionable whether the "show will go on" as they rehearse amid mishaps and misunderstandings and very stormy seas. Merry mayhem occurs during this madcap show with director Barbara Pettis at the helm,obtaining much laughter from the audience.
Barbara gives her cast many clever bits and shtick. She has her cast use British accents, they sing, and one of them has a stutter that is hilarious. The show is a spoof of shows like "Private Lives" and "Anything Goes". She is aided in her task by stage manager, Ninette Cummings. The gorgeous turntable ship set is by Ronald Dion and the lighting by Tony Liapis The lovely costumes are by Kate Smith. Since the audience is unfamiliar with this show I will give a brief synopsis of it. The storyline goes like this:playwrights Sandor Turai, Alex Gal and their new composer Adam Adam have embarked on the trans-Atlantic ocean liner, The S.S. Italian Castle and are about to surprise their actors Natasha Navratilova and Ivor Fish with the newest song from their nearly finished musical comedy, "The Cruise of the Dodo". Unfortunately, they overhear the pair just as Ivor declares his love for Natasha, as Adam listens on in horror. Sending Gal to take Adam back to his cabin to comfort him, Turai hatches a plan to convince Adam that what they actually overheard was Ivor's pathetic attempt at playwrighting. Turai stays up the whole night writing a scene for Ivor and Natasha to play as an alternative version of Turai's ending, with the declaration of love inserted and played as a scene. They are assisted by the sometimes dimwitted, sometimes brilliant, but always unconventional steward, Dvornichek who keeps drinking cognac all night long. Despite many near revelations of Turai's plan, you will have to see whether Natasha and Adam are reunited or not.
The show comes alive with the first musical number. Andre Previn wrote three beautiful and melodic songs for the play with funny lyrics by Stoppard. "This Could be the One" is a gorgeous love ballad sung by Rachel in her glorious soprano voice. "Where Do We Go From Here?" which is sung by the whole cast and "You Never Heard it From Me" which is sung by Rachel and Lucas.The antics of the cast will keep you stitches all night long. Barbara gives each member of her cast a chance to shine in this show.Paul Campbell plays Turai who is constantly stymied by the steward. He is a commanding presence in this part. Paul Collins is a hoot as the steward who seems to know everything that is happening. Gene Guidi has many comical scenes especially funny is the one where he is drunk and eats kippers. Rachel Parkman, a knockout brunette, is luminous as Natasha. Her gorgeous voice soars in her musical numbers and she captures the flavor of a woman from the 1930's. Matt Meier is topnotch as the married womanizing Ivor who still lusts after Natasha. Lucas Lloyd is hilarious as Adam who can't speak properly and lives in fear of his mother who believes she is the reincarnation of Mona Lisa. He has many funny moments that have to been seen to be believed. So for a brand new comic play to tickle your funny bone, be sure to catch "Rough Crossing" before the ship leaves port.