Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Jake's Women"

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"Jake's Women"

by Neil Simon
Directed by David Jepson

Stage Manager - Linda Feid
Lighting and Sound - Kyle Peltier
Set Construction - Kyle Peltier, John Staniunas
Set Design - David Jepson

( in order of appearance)

Jake- Sonny Dufault
Maggie - Beth Jepson
Karen - Lee Rush
Molly (at 12) - Kristee Jaye Cordeiro
Molly (at 21) - Susan Denice
Edith - JaNae Gibbs Cottom
Julie - Katherine Piggott
Sheila - Joanna Lewis

City Nights Dinner Theatre's production of Neil Simon's "Jake's Women" has all of the ingredients that make for an enjoyable evening of theatre. This talented cast delighted the audience with the execution of their characterizations and literally had the audience in for some hilarious moments and delightful entertainment. The Rhode Island premiere of Simon's work could not have been in better hands with veteran director David Jepson at the helm. Couple that with top notch performances by this eight member cast and you will understand why this dinner theatre production is so popular.

Sonny Dufault plays "Jake", a novelist who has this overly wild imagination about the women in his life and is more successful with his fiction than his real life. He faces his marital problems by daydreaming about the women in his life, both past and present. It is the daydreaming and flashbacks and fantasies playing in his mind and interrupted by visitations from actual females that make this show.

Dufault is incredibly funny, and one of the best actor's I have seen (he reminds me of Alan Alda). He has the pacing, gestures, tone, mood, appearance, you name it--- Sonny has it! This show has only one man in it, and could very well be a real boring show if the leading male does not live up to the role. Fortunately , this is not the case in this production. Dufault is superb!

He is joined by veteran actress, Beth Jepson, who plays his second wife, Maggie. Beth demonstrates her talent throughout the show, but especially when she had to switch to a younger Maggie, and create the illusion of her character at that point in her life. She was especially good when she 'appeared in Sonny's imagination ' when he was talking to one of his girlfriend's.

The plot involves Jake and Maggie and the impending end of their marriage. Neither of them really want to split, but Jake has not given himself a chance to face up to "himself". Maggie gives him all the subtle hints about her feelings , but Jake is off with his imagination again.... which is where most of the funny parts of this show are.

Jake has some problems, not only with himself and his imagination, but the character's that are in his head...for example, his sister( Karen) played by Lee Rush, who has little compassion for his dilemma, and his former wife (Julie) played by Katherine Piggott who died in a tragic automobile accident shortly after they were first married, his daughter (Mollie - age 12) played by Kristee Jaye Cordeiro, and (Molly-age 21) played by Susan Denice. Add to this his psychiatrist (Edith), played by JaNae Gibbs Cottom and (Sheila) one of Jake's women played by Joanna Lewis and we have one laugh after another.!

Susan Denice( Molly at 21) gave an incredibly professional performance, especially when she meets her mother Julie. It was a touching scene and Susie handled it well.

Outstanding performances by the female ensemble make this show really interesting and enjoyable to watch as Jake goes on an on about his marital woes. Neil Simon's lines - especially the one-liners- are so entertaining and funny and this multi-talented cast has a ball delivering them. The female visitation 's (In Jake's imagination) were highly entertaining and some of the lines the women had kept the audience laughing.

Set design by David Jepson was unique I thought ,,hmmm everything is off white, and its a living room downstairs, and a novelist office upstairs. There are NO set changes, which make it crucial for the lighting person , Kyle Peltier to be ready when there is movement from the actors, to mood changes when Jake delivers his monologues to the audience, to the "fantasies" becoming realities in Jake life. It worked well and Kyle did an outstanding job with the lighting and sight cues.

If you are looking for an evening of entertainment and great dinner, come and see this production of Jake's Women". Its playing now until January 31st.

"Jake's Women" (till 31 January)
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