Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Killjoy"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2001 by Tony Annicone

"Killjoy"

Tony Annicone

The Newport Playhouse's latest show is "Killjoy", an unpredictable, hilarious comedy/thriller. A woman, Carol (Sandra Nicastro) is being driven crazy by her smarmy ex-husband, Victor (Lanny Slusher) and his new younger wife, Claudia (Lisa Reimer). Carol's two children, Sonny (Chris O'Donnell) and Vicki (Elizabeth Colagiovanni) work at Victor's restaurant, Pasta Mondo and are bullied and verbally abused by him. When Carol has a passionate affair with Victor's lawyer, Rick(Wayne Hawkins), they decide that Victor has to die because he is a monster. The twists and turns that follow these intriguing characters plus some clever and witty dialogue make this a must see laugh out loud hit.

Sandra plays the sympathetic ex-wife with comic expertise. From the opening scene where she is kneeling down confessing her sins to an unseen priest even though she is Jewish, to the love making scenes rolling around on the floor after mounting Rick, to the argument scenes with Victor and Claudia, Sandra shows the audience her great depth as an actress. She commands the stage and makes the audience howl with laughter while doing it. A human dynamo who always delivers the goods.

Lanny makes Victor into a man the audience hates. He plays a slimy, sleazebag who controls everyone by throwing his money around. He controls his children by threatening to take away their jobs and by belittling them especially Sonny. By story's end Victor gets his but you won't know what it is until then. Lanny oozes with a fake charm and bravado to get what he wants making the character despicable but amusing at the same time.

Wayne and Lisa bring their two characters to life with their splendid acting talent.Wayne as the oily shark of a lawyer plays all parties against the other. Is he working for Carol or Victor and what is his secret agenda? The love scenes with Carol are outstanding especially when he rips her bra off while she is still fully dressed. The wrestling around and kissing scenes with her are very funny, too. Wayne also does the voice over as the Irish priest Carol confesses to and turns in funny performances in both roles. Lisa plays the young slutty new wife perfectly. Her first outfit of black leather pants and jacket with a very revealing red blouse fits the role to a tee. Lisa makes the fawning, blushing bride into a stronger woman later on in the show demonstrating her talent. Both Wayne and Lisa are a joy to watch on the stage and this show is no exception to the rule.(They also standout in the Cabaret with Wayne's "This is the Moment" and Lisa's"Hard Hearted Hannah" and "Bless the Lord')

Carol's children in this show also deliver powerful performances. Elizabeth makes Vicki into a strong young woman who pushes her brother around but still wants to please her mother and father. She has a good stage presence and handles her scenes with the others easily. Elizabeth is a Masters student at Emerson in Boston showing what a talented young woman she is. Chris makes Sonny into a young version of Dick Van Dyke with many varied facial expressions. His physical comedy is top notch whether he is tripping over a foot stool, carrying in a heavy box or getting a door smashed into his nose. Chris handles the transition from this weak, depressed kid into a tower of strength later in the show by standing up to Victor to defend his mother. Only a senior in college, Chris has been nominated for the Irene Ryan acting award showing even though he is a political science major, he is a talented actor, too.(Chris also uses his outstanding tenor voice in the Cabaret singing "Bring Him Home" moving the crowd to tears.)

Producer Matt Siravo and director Rob Reimer have a surefire hit on their hands. This is a comic hidden gem of a show that will please audiences night after night. It also has been well cast and the gales of laughter from the audience is all the proof you need.

"Killjoy" (till 8 April)
NEWPORT PLAYHOUSE & CABARET RESTAURANT
102 Connell Highway, NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND
1(401) 848-7529

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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