Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Underpants"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2008 by Tony Annicone

"The Underpants"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The second show of Theatre Works 26th season is "The Underpants", a farce by Carl Sternheim and adapted by Steve Martin. The show takes place in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1910 and begins when the young and beautiful wife of an uptight bureaucrat drops her bloomers during a town parade for the king. Louise is a pretty and naive housewife whose frilly pantaloons accidentally fall while watching the parade. Suddenly, the room she and her husband want to rent becomes the most sought after place in the town by men who saw the whole "accident" go down. A foppish poet and a nebbish barber, both entranced by a glimpse of her underwear, vie to become Louise's lover. Her new found fame terrifies her husband, thrills her busybody neighbor and brings about a surprise suitor as well as a grumpy old man (Who spouts off obscenities) who really wants to rent the room. The wild and crazy antics of these 7 performers will keep you entertained all night long with their wonderful acting and direction. A special word of praise to set design painter Rick Cardoza who makes the set look like Pee Wee Herman's Playhouse set and to Sharon Charette for her multitude of authentic costumes for this time period especially the German flag pantaloon.

Veteran director Connie Anderson gives the cast the needed direction and blocking to get all the Steve Martin double entendres and innuendoes hit pay dirt with her talented casts delivery. (Several local celebrities play the role of the king who appears in the last scene of the show, creating much laughter with his dialogue.) Connie is not only a seasoned director but a topnotch actress, too. (Having directed her in "Crossing Delancey" in 1993) Her new daughter-in-law, Tina Brouillette-Smith is the hard working stage manager who keeps the many props in order and helps to keep the show flowing along smoothly. Connie has an old fashioned stove on the set for Louise to make hot dogs for her husband. (A lot of the innuendoes concern the wieners since this is a sexual farce.) She also runs the lights and sound for the show. Meredyth Waterman whom I reviewed as Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors" last year, plays Louise, the dimwitted gorgeous blond. She is a hoot in this role as she charms the audience with her coquettishness and her interactions with her overbearing husband and hot to trot female neighbor are comical, too. Louise's husband says they can't afford a baby so he hasn't made love to her in a long time and with their first wedding anniversary approaching, she is willing to take one of the boarders on to woo her. The neighbor wants to live thru Louise's adventures. Meredyth evokes much laughter with her antics throughout the show especially her moon eyed looks at the poet and her burning of the wieners.

Ed Benjamin III is terrific as Theo Maske, the pompous, chauvinistic husband who hasn't been satisfying his wife in bed because he doesn't have enough money to support a child. His bombastic delivery and announcements of how things ought to be done in a proper German household are wonderful. One of the funniest scenes is when Ed appears in his underwear to have his way with a woman while his line about Gertrude is hilarious, too. ("Rivers still flow from rusty pipes!) Ed is a topnotch actor who I have reviewed in "Moon Over Buffalo", Monky Business" and "Wally's Cafe" which was directed by Little Rhody website owner, Don Gillis.(Ed took a 2 year hiatus to marry his lovely wife, Laura and have a beautiful son, Chase) Lynn Nadrowski plays Gertrude, the upstairs neighbor who wants to live through Louise's sexual escapades. She makes every one of her comic lines soar with their sexual innuendoes and smuttiness. She is also funny as she runs up and down the stairs and in and out of the door at various times, too. (I have reviewed Lynn as an actress in several murder mysteries and also as director and she does excellently at both.) Paul Sacci, a handsome and debonair man plays the role of Frank Versati, the Italian poet. He delivers his funny poetic lines to Louise while prancing around the stage to woo her. The arguments between the poet and the barber are very funny as they keep trying to hit each other to make their point about who should be Louise's lover. (Her underpants really turned them on.) Henry Clarendon is a whirling dervish as the Jewish barber, Cohen, who says his last name is spelled with a K not a C because Theo is a bigot. Cohen is a hypochondriac who thinks he has every illness under the sun. Henry is extremely tall and as the character he walks as if he had a broomstick up his backside. His funniest scene is when Louise slips him a sleeping potion, he tries to leave the table with rubbery legs, giving the crowd many laughs as he walks into his room. Moe Cournoyer plays the mean old man, Klinglehoff, who demands privacy in his rented room. Thinking he saw her at the parade, Louise lifts her dress up to expose her underpants when he shows his indignation, she quickly covers by telling him that he is having delusions. Moe handles this part with ease. (Another talented actor, Joe Casey plays this role the second week of the show.) Last but not least are the several guest actors who appear as the king. I saw Tom Ward, the publisher of the Valley Breeze, other actors include Mark Anderson, president of Theatre Works,(who also built the humorous set) Mike Montecalvo, Co-anchor and Tony Petrarca, meteorologist of Eyewitness News-Channel 12, Frank O'Donnell, house comic of Twin Rivers and Gene Valicenti, Co-anchor, Channel 10. They add to the merriment of the show as he spouts secret lines to Louise causing the cast to gasp in surprise. So for a delightful, madcap comic romp be sure to catch "The Underpants" before time runs out. The clever and witty dialogue will amuse you all night long.

"The Underpants" (7 - 16 November)
THEATRE WORKS
142 Clinton Street, WOONSOCKET RI
1 (401)766-1898

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