Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Funny Valentines"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone

"Funny Valentines"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at the Granite Theatre is the delightful comedy, "Funny Valentines". Children's book author Andy Robbins has been an unhappy bachelor since his divorce eight months before from his former collaborator, Ellen. she re-enters his life eight and a half months pregnant; his agent arrives with a TV contract that needs both their signatures; a beautiful sexy representative from the studio arrives to wrap up the TV deal and seduce Andy, and Ellen's mother makes an unexpected visit. These are the ingredients of the funny but touching comedy directed by theatre veteran, Arthur Pignataro. He chooses the best performers to handle each role, leading to a thunderous ovation at the end of the show.

Seasoned director, Pignataro gives his actors wonderful insight to their roles as well as giving them humorous shtick, too. He also picks out the mood music for the show including "My Funny Valentine", "Over The Rainbow" and "Off To See The Wizard". The two story set by David Jepson, helps the audience believe they are in New York city. Leading actor, Keith Brayne infuses Andy Robbins with the necessary childlike behavior to make him an endearing author of Beanie the bear books. He staples his shirt, plays Wizard of Oz recordings on his old gramophone and has many clocks in his apartment with different times on them. Keith captures the manic behavior of this childlike man perfectly, giving the audience many laughs along the way.

R. David Boss plays the smarmy agent, Howard Levy, beautifully. He coaxes and cajoles his client into signing a TV deal without reading the fine print. David enters and exits scenes like a whirling dervish, trying to push his deal through. He handles all his scenes very well. The beautiful sexy, Zan Wilkenson is played by Soshana Dos. She is a tall, gorgeous brunette who shows off her dynamite figure in very hot, Victoria Secrets lingerie. Soshana handles the seduction of Andy hilariously and when she tries to cool herself off while wearing a stifling raincoat in the apartment, she receives many well deserved laughs. Wonderful job. The long suffering wife of this manchild is played by Julie Rattey. Her first entrance as a hugely pregnant wife is one of her many highlights of the night. Julie plays her pregnant role perfectly, sitting and standing as if she was really almost 9 months along. She is small in stature but she plays the strong spitfire who stands up to Andy and everyone with ease. The surprise ending will give the audience the payoff it deserves. Last but not least is veteran actress, Candice Stein who plays Ellen's mother. She sparkles in this role of puzzled mother who gets confused by the machinations of the others. Candice gives this woman the needed backbone to make her not only funny but poignant at times, trying to show Andy and Ellen what they should do.

The opening night festivities are not complete without the delicious treats prepared by Iren Bessette. The numerous foods include brown bread with spinach dip, homemade cookies with baby toys on them, tuna and egg salad sandwiches (appropriate for a Friday in Lent) and an absolutely scrumptious, carrot and pumpkin cake that will melt in your mouth. The piece de resistance of the evening is the ingenious cake decorated as a Beanie, the bear book which fits the current show like a glove. It is not only beautiful to look at but luscious, too. Making it a fitting ending for an entertaining evening.

Be sure to book your reservations for "Funny Valentines" quickly. It is sure to sell out, making it another successful season opening under producer, Paul Lynch and artistic director, David Jepson. The numerous set changes and stage managing are handled by veteran, Morgan Bon Draoi.

"Funny Valentines" (7 - 30 March)
THE GRANITE THEATRE
1Granite Street, WESTERLY, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401) 596-2341

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