Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Granite Theatre's latest show is Neil Simon's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers". This comedy is about 47 year old Barney Cashman who has been married for 23 years but wants to experience sex with another woman before it's too late. He has his encounters with three different women at his mother's rose colored apartment with the same result each time. Geri Sereno directs all three scenes with a deft hand making the audience howl with laughter at the antics of Barney and his three dates, taking you on a merry ride in this well written comedy.
Director Sereno cast these four roles perfectly. She makes each of the girls different from each other so the audience knows the character immediately. Geri also lucks out with a versatile leading man who handles the growth of Barney in each segment making the transition from uncertain to knowing what he wants by the end of the show with ease. She shows how Barney sees the full circle his life takes in these three scenes and how maybe life with his wife is what he really wants after all. This show is one more feather in the award winning Sereno's directing cap.
Mark Foster, an Eric Lutes look alike, makes Barney Cahman into a person the audience roots for. His first attempt at romance is thwarted by a woman who wants to do it quickly without any personal data thrown in. The second is a wacky encounter with a young dope smoking actress who is out of control. The final is a family friend who is under psychiatric care and makes him realize his wife is the person he really wants. Mark handles each scene eautifully. He shows his strength during the first act when he explains why he wants to have a fling because he married his high school sweetheart who he has known since they were 16. He only had one fling before marriage with a 44 year woman. Mark makes this monologue shine by building the emotions from start to finish and his vow of never trying this again is a powerful ending to the first act. He handles the dope smoking scene and the final confrontation scene with the same intensity as the first one. Mark is an actor with a great deal of talent and is bound to make acting his profession in the future.
Sarah Elizabeth Bilofsky plays the sexy, chain smoking, hard drinking Elaine. This pretty actress makes this hard as nails New York broad come to life as she bosses and pushes Barney around the apartment. Sarah's Elaine wants sex and she wants it now with no questions asked. Elaine has had many men before and Barney is one more. Sarah shows what Barney is about in this first scene when he goes from being timid to throwing her into a chair taking control of the scene from her. She shows this transition splendidly making the first act memorable.
Joyeux Noel plays Bobbie, the dope smoking actress perfectly. Her gangbuster, high energy entrance continues for the entire scene. Joy makes her character and the scene the funniest in the show. Bobbie's constant stories about her Nazi voice teacher, lesbian roomate, her boyfriends, one with sharpened teeth and another, a politician who stole her dog are laugh out loud moments. The only way her character can relax is by smoking dope which is prescribed by a California doctor. Bobbie finally gets Barney to smoke with her in hilarious fashion. They both end up singing "What the World Needs Now". This scene contains some of Neil Simon's funniest one liners and Joy pulls it off with the maturity of a much older actress.
Susan Maguire plays Jeannette, the high strung neurotic family friend. She bursts into the apartment clutching her purse which Barney finally rips out of her hands. Susan makes the dowdy Jeanette into a comic gem when she swills down a bottle of pills, yelling at Barney saying there are no decent people in the world, there is too much promiscuity. This leads to Barney saying he isn't getting any of the promiscuity. The intensity of the scene leads both characters to realize their happiness lies in their marriages. Susan's manic-depressive character portrayal is excellent. She is crying one minute and out of control the next. Susan, a beautiful girl in real life, captures the essence of this harried older woman. All the women have wonderful chemistry with Mark making this into the successful production it is.
More words of praise go to producer, Paul Lynch and artistic director, David Jepson for the restoration of this gorgeous theater and kudos to stage manager Jason Colvin for keeping things running smoothly. Another highlight of opening night festivities goes to caterer, Lorain Simister who makes so many delicious foods, if listed here would be longer than the review itself. She runs Lor Concierge, catering firm and she should be called immediately, you won't be disappointed by her expertise. Her associate is Kim who runs Kimberly Jones Confections.She makes the best dried apricot and chocolate's ever. They went so quickly from the buffet table, you have to be fast to taste one. For further info on the show and the food contact the theatre by phone or on their website. www.granitetheatre.com. You won't be disappointed!