Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Newport Playhouse's current show is the hilarious farce, "The Amorous Ambassador" by Michael Parker. Harry Douglas, the new American Ambassador to Great Britain, his wife, Lois, their daughter, Debbie and their very proper, British butler, Perkins, end up being drawn into some crazy and mixed up sexual shenanigans during the course of the show. Director Kate Radin keeps the energy flowing throughout this farce making it into an evening of madcap merriment from start to finish.
Kate, a very experienced stage manager, tries her hand at directing a farce for the first time and succeeds beautifully. The door slamming, the running in and out of the doors is timed just right and the funny situations the characters get into are executed with a great deal of laughter resulting from them. From the super glue on the butler's hand, to the caught zippers on Debbie's sweater and her boyfriend's pants, to the captain of Marines flag boxer shorts, to the Harry's wearing of a Tarzan outfit and his neighbor's sexy French maid costume, the audience reacts to the visual stimulation of all these humorous undertakings. Kate and her cast are rewarded by their hard work by the prolonged laughes and thunderous applause at the end of the show.
Tee Harris plays Harry, the dirty old man, with the right amount of lecherousness behavior. His pursuit of Marian, his neighbor and Josephine, his daughter's "girlfriend" is right on the money. The set up of the seduction and the Tarzan outfit scenes are very funny. Nicole Leigh Morris is gorgeous as Marian. Her maid's outfit is extremely sexy as is her first slinky black dress and her stilletto high heels. Nicole infuses this sexpot with the right amount of horny behavior and makes the bed scene with Harry where she puts on his pajama bottoms, hysterical.
One of the biggest scene stealers in the show is Wayne Alan Hawkins as Perkins, the stodgy butler. He promises to keep the family's sexual secrets to himself and he ends up getting caught up in their behavior, too. Wayne's fabulous British accent and annunciation of his lines is wonderful to behold. His best scenes include being super glued to the secretary's behind while trying to cover it up by doing the tango and conga with her and the other is having his tie caught in the zipper of Debbie's sweater with his head attached to her boobs. Hilarious! His cohort in the craziness is Veronica Mays who plays the accident prone secretary. She keeps dropping papers, slamming the door on the Captain's head, breaking things and not remembering to call people or to deliver messages. Veronica makes this dumb woman come to life when she realizes she is in love with the butler.
Another scene stealer is the Irene Ryan nominated actor, Chris O'Donnell as Debbie's boyfriend who tries to fool her father by dressing up as her girlfriend. (Chris looks like an East German female swimmer on steroids as J osephine.) He wears a dress, a wig and high heels while trying to escape the horny clutches of the Ambassador and has to change from man to a woman in split seconds. These changes plus the cutting of his pants when his zipper gets caught on Debbie's dress are comic gems. Jessica Gardner plays the seemingly innocent daughter beautifully. Her pursuit of Joe is hilarious as is the singing of "Some Enchanted Evening" with Tee while they set up their seduction moments, entering and leaving while taking food and drink on and off the stage without the other knowing it. She and Chris make the perfect younger couple in this madcap show.
Last but not least are Brian Lamothe as the redneck, marine, Captain South and Sandra Nicastro as Lois, the long suffering wife of the Ambassador. Brian enters the stage as a whirling dervish, barking orders in a Southern accent. His character searches for a spy who has infiltrated the embassy. Brian executes his pratfalls wonderfully and his surprise entrance near the end of the show gives the audience additional laughes before the final curtain.Sandra is a strong character actress and she makes the most of her time on stage as Lois who might not be as long suffering as you might think. Her chastisement of her daughter and husband is well done and leads to the unexpected conclusion of the show. The elaborate set design is by 25 year old Vinny Micucci who adds the needed final touch to this farce.
So for a fun filled evening at matt Siravo's Newport Playhouse, go see this show. Before the show, enjoy the all you can eat, delicious buffet prepared by master chef, Rhedd Hawley. ( My favorites are the steak and onions, the baked sole and the rice pilaf.) After the show there is a cabaret filled with songs and jokes, back in the restaurant.