note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Carl A. Rossi
Mr. Dewlip Ö Christopher Fitzgerald
Mr. Jelliwell Ö Jeremy Shamos
Mrs. Jelliwell Ö Mia Barron
Miss Smith Ö Jessica Stone
The Huntington ends its season on a lighthearted note with Benn Levyís 1931 comedy of manners, SPRINGTIME FOR HENRY. This British romp about an irresponsible playboy and the prim secretary who temporarily reforms him was a perennial favorite with Boston audiences from the 30s to the 50s when character actor Edward Everett Horton toured as its leading man. The Huntington production is predictably smooth and safe; on the night I attended, the packed house laughed as if SPRINGTIME FOR HENRY was the funniest thing in years (no doubt it was, in Depression-ridden 1931). I smiled, now and then.
What I smiled at was Nicholas Martinís witty direction (many clever bits, here; not the least being the crisp rapping sound that the typewriter makes) and his hardworking quartet (varying accents, though); between them, they hold back the dust that would thickly accumulate should the non-stop action let up for an instant. SPRINGTIME FOR HENRY is very much a vehicle for an over-the-top Personality; Christopher Fitzgerald gives Mr. Dewlip the next best thing --- a poker face and plenty of energy --- and when paired with Jessica Stoneís sweetly tart Miss Smith, itís a clear case of Beagle meets Poodle (Michael Krass has designed a charming gown for Ms. Stone, with white shoulders to suggest angel wings).
Once again the vast B. U. stage dwarfs its actors; James Noone has designed a sitting room that could fill a wing at the MFA --- indeed, it looks and is so museum-like that I thought of noise, clutter and fingerprints as Mr. Fitzgerald & Company scampered through it like children on holiday. The Huntingtonís new theatres, being built adjacent to the Boston Center for the Arts, are expected to open in the fall of 2004; the Huntington should seriously consider booking its smaller productions there and leave the B. U. stage for operas, epics and spectacles instead of continuing to show glimpses of Life Among the Pygmies.