Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Norman, Is That You?"

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entire contents copyright 1998 by Tony Annicone

"Norman, Is That You?"

Written by Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick

Directed and Produced by MATT SIRAVO

Stage Manager: Vince Micucci
Set Design: Matt Siravo
Set Construction: David Raposa
Set Decoration: Jason Heywood,
Patrick Cournoyer, Vince Micucci
Light Design: Jon Perry
Lights and Sound Tech: Kate Radin
Costumes: Marge Conte

The Cast

Norman Chambers .............. Jason Heywood
Garson Hobart................... Patrick Cournoyer
Ben Chambers........... William "Bing" McGrath
Mary............................. Jennifer DeCristofano
Beatrice Chambers................ Sandra Nicastro

Newport Playhouse & Cabaret Restaurant's current production, "NORMAN, IS THAT YOU?", is a delightful comedy about a dry cleaner, Ben Chambers (William "Bing" McGrath) from Dayton, Ohio whose wife, Beatrice (Sandra Nicastro) has run away with his brother. Ben comes to New York City to stay with his son, Norman (Jason Heywood) at his apartment. When Ben arrives he finds Norman shacked up with his flamboyant lover, Garson Hobart (Patrick Cournoyer) who loves to wear velvet pants and has decorated the apartment with lavender curtains and a statue of DAVID by Michaelangelo.

After meeting Garth and reading many books on homosexuality including "Homosexuality for Dummies", Ben decides to straighten his son out by hiring a prostitute, Mary (Jennifer DeCristofano). Norman storms out and Dad enjoys the "date" with Mary!. After Ben's tough day, he has a nightmare where he wins homosexual dry cleaner of the year!. That prompted Dad to hire Mary to seduce Garth to get him out of Norman's life. Once again, the plan fails. Finally Beatrice, Norman's mother shows up. She has left Ben's brother because he was a cheapskate that decided to move into her son's pad. Ben tells Bea that Norman is gay and to prove his point, he introduces her to Garth. After Bea meets Garth, Mary enters the room and a stunned Bea utters the show's funniest line --"Norman, Is That You?!".

After Mary leaves, Norman returns home to tell his parents and lover he has decided to enlist in the Navy for 4 years. Mom and Dad figure the best way to break Norman and Garth up will be to adopt Garth and fix him up with one of their gay neighbors after all... they think Norman can do better than Garth with maybe a doctor..or a lawyer.

William "Bing" McGrath handles the demanding role of Ben Chambers expertly, playing a man living on the edge after having his wife desert him and finding out his son is gay all in the same day!. Bing plays all his scenes with his fellow actors very well by interacting with them and with the audience to fit whatever situation confronts him. Especially funny was when Ben puts his necktie over the DAVID statue to cover its nudity as well as the scenes where he spoke directly to the audience to point out who he thought was gay.

Jason Heywood does an excellent job as Norman who has to explain his living arrangement to his parents. He conveys the comedy of his character by his natural acting ability and can make the audience laugh by just giving them a look. Jason always does a great acting job, having seen him in "Run For Your Wife" and "Mr. 80%". He always gives the audience 100%!.

Patrick Cournoyer makes the role of Garth a madcap comic romp. His mannerisms and gestures as the more obvious one of the duo were right on the money, perfectly done and provided the audience with many laughs.

Jennifer DeCristofano did a wonderful portrayal as Mary, the scantily clad prostitute. She makes the most of her limited stage time. It shows the old adage, there are no small parts, only small actors ...true. (It means make the most of any size role you have and Jen certainly does that!).

Last but certainly not least, Sandra Nicastro does an outstanding job as Norman's mother. When Sandra walks onto the stage, she sends the audience into gales of laughter with her timing and delivery. She runs the gamut of emotions from shock at Norman's being gay to exasperation about her affair with Ben's brother and to astonishment when she meets Garth and Mary. Sandra is a dynamo on any stage she performs on. ( A true professional).

Kudos' must also go to veteran director, Matt Siravo for his keen insight into the characters and deft hand at keeping the pace of the show going while the audience keeps laughing and laughing. (Matt just marked his 9th year in running the Playhouse). Before the show, he serves a sumptuous buffet prepared by head chef, Jeffrey Oates and his staff. There are many different foods available and you can eat as much as you want to.(My favorite was the meatloaf). Included also is a cabaret performance after the show.

What a great evening out, enjoying a meal, a show and a song fest, to quote Gershwin "who could ask for anything more". Bravo to Matt, cast and crew for a job well done!

"Norman, Is That You?"
NEWPORT PLAYHOUSENewport Playhouse (till 20 Dec 98)
102 Connell Highway , Newport, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401) 848-PLAY

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