Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Newport Playhouse's current production, "Greetings", is a warm yet funny Christmas show, making it a pleasant alternative to "A Christmas Carol". The story takes place in the Gorski home on Christmas Eve in the 1960's. Andy brings home his Jewish, atheist fiancee, Randi Stein to meet his nice, Catholic mother, Emily, his cranky Catholic father, Phil and his severely retarded brother, Mickey who only says, "Wow" and "Oh, Boy". Chaos rules the evening until Micky is inhabited by a spirit, Lucius who proves miracles do happen due to the love and understanding of all the characters.
Director, Rob Reimer leads his performers from their petty squabbles to bringing the family together and healing their old wounds. He gives the audience many comic and heart warming moments during it. Vinny Micucci designs the perfect Christmas set, making the audience get into the right mood for the enjoyment of this holiday show.
The biggest scene stealer is Matthew Barabe as the retarded brother, Mickey. His acting prowess astounds you as he transforms himself into the talking, spirit, Lucius. He stays in character throughout the entire show, maintaining the gestures and tics of a retarded person splendidly. Matthew's dialogue as Lucius is delivered with a German accent and when he utters his first word, "Greetings", the audience applauds this lovable character loudly. One of his funniest shticks is when Mickey is doing his favorite wrestling moves with his older brother. He emits a terrifying roar and makes a claw with his hand to pin his opponent. Matthew gives a dynamite performance from start to finish. Bravo on a job well done.
Playing the father and mother are veteran performers, Michael Pavia and Deb McGowan. Although they are much younger in real life than their characters, both of them pull off the older roles wonderfully. Michael's old man walk with a cane and his posture are convincing. He plays the cranky old man with a lot of spirit and you love it when he gets put in his place by the others. Michael's funniest line is about a nun jumping him. (Really jump starting his car) Deb plays the caring, doting mother beautifully. She and Michael act like a true to life bickering married couple. Deb's fainting is a hoot. While her trying to teach Mickey how to talk and clean his face and hands after he eats, are sweet moments, adding the needed depth to the show.
The engaged couple is played by Nishan Lawton and Lacy Dwyer. Nishan does a great job as Andy. He shows true emotional reactions in the various scenes from his being hurt by his father's disapproval, to being loving and warm to Mickey and his mother and his great love and affection for his girlfriend, Randi. Nishan handles the dramatic and comic moments perfectly. Lacy makes her stage debut in this show, handling the complicated role of Randi wonderfully. Lacy shows her acting strength when she stands up to Phil, shows love towards Andy and understanding to Mickey. Her character realizes it's time to make up with her parents with the help of Lucius, making Randi, a softer more forgiving person. So for a warm hearted Christmas treat, catch this show, you won't be disappointed.