Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The latest show at The Newport Playhouse is "Murder at the Howard Johnson's". Director/producer Matt Siravo takes this three person cast and leads them through this light fast paced suspense-comedy about a love triangle at a Howard Johnson Motor Inn beautifully. The many twists and turns during this mixed up mayhem keeps the audience on the edge of their seats while laughing at the many antics and sight gags in this three scene play. Add a maid with a huge rump to change the scenes and you have the necessary ingredients for a hilarious night of comedy.
Patty Mott plays Arlene, a femme fatale who has a used car salesman husband and a dentist boyfriend chasing her throughout the show. Arlene is a dimbulb who can't chose who she wants to be with leading to thoughts of murder. Patty uses a ditsy voice to pull off the humor in the role. The frantic pace and her various costumes for Christmas, July 4th and New Year's Eve are hilarious. One of the funniest moments is when she crawls under the bed and starts to make out with one of her lovers. Patty shows how to deliver a punchline to get the laughter going in this crazy and wild comedy.
Wayne Hawkins plays the skirt chasing dentist, Mitchell. He is like a whirling dervish running around the room at a dizzying pace while delivering his comedic dialogue. Wayne ties up a person, makes a noose for the gallows and runs around the ledge of the building with ease and in two of the scenes he does it while limping around the room. He also wears some funny costumes including a bright colored suit and a very loud Hawaiian shirt with bright yellow boxer shorts. Wayne runs around the ledge in the shorts in one of the funniest scenes in the show. He is at home on the stage in this comic role entertaining the crowd.
Jason Heywood plays Paul, the car salesman who Arlene wants to divorce one minute then loves in the next. He can't believe what's happening and allows himself to be tied to a chair, then in another scene he runs around on the ledge with a pillow.
Jason is hysterical when he enters the room after being on the ledge by crossing around the bed and furniture while walking as if still on the ledge. The added bird poo on his shirt adds to the merriment. Jason also eats KFC in this scene while spouting lessons he learned in his self actualization classes. His heart attack scene is a hoot because it doesn't end as you expect it to end leading the crowd into gales of laughter. Jason is a natural born comedian and it comes through in his role as Paul.
The show is an ensemble piece and all the performers do excellent work in their role.
An added delight during the scene changes Elizabeth Colagiovanni as the maid with the huge butt. She walks like Mrs. Wiggins on The Carol Burnett Show. Liz wiggles her behind in time to the music while changing the holiday decorations. She also wears catlike glasses to make the effect complete. What a hoot!
Matt Siravo infuses this show with many laughs and the quick line delivery needed to make it run smoothly. He had Vincent Micucci design the bay window set so you can watch the antics on the ledge perfectly. Matt also has chef, Jeffrey Oates cook many delicious food offerings at the buffet before the show and has an after the show cabaret to end your evening of entertainment. Now in its 12th season as a dinner theatre, this is one more show added to the long list of successes.