Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Harris Cashes Out"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone

"Harris Cashes Out"

A Review by Tony Annicone

Newport Playhouse's current show is Londos D'Arrigo's "Harris Cashes Out." The author is a Canadian writer who for over thirty years wrote hard-hitting laughs for comedy icons such as Phyllis Diller, Lily Tomlin and Joan Rivers. Forty years ago, a composer named Harris Wellborn wrote "Passing Fancy", an off-Broadway musical. Sadly, it closed after just one performance. Fast forward, and we find the elderly Harris down on his luck, but he still dreams of making it on Broadway. He continued to write jingles and opened a bed and breakfast with his late wife. His sister lends him a helping hand by putting him into one of her apartment rooms.The laughs unfold when he is thrown together with the flaky young woman who lives down the hall. His life takes a hilarious turn when her scheming boyfriend comes up with a devious plan to cash in on Harris' past and we find out what happens to all of them. Director Sandy Cerel cast these roles with the best performers and elicits stunning, insightful performances which wins her cast thunderous applause at curtain call.

Sandy is aided in her task by hard working stage manager Tonya Free who keeps things running smoothly all night long. Olivia Sahlin is her co-stage manager. Londos constructs a very well written script that the audience can enjoy and savor. Ralph Stokes commands the stage as Harris whose treasure consists of songs, clippings, papers and rejections. He handles his many one liners wonderfully, making them hit paydirt. Ralph has an enormous amount of dialogue. Some of his funniest moments occur with his mangling current day slang especially computer language and he calls Kim, a dog walker, Miss Kibbles and Bits. Leslie Zeile is terrific as Maggie, his patient sister who helps her bipolar brother through his various mood swings and tries to keep things on an even keel. She moves him into her rent-free apartment. The dilapidated set is by Tonya. Cathy Andreozzi plays this role at alternating performances.

Isabella Bennett is a hoot in her debut performance at the Playhouse. She plays Kim Sutton, a spacey up to date gal who wants to bring Harris into the current times. Her costumes and antics are priceless, leaving you in stitches because her dingbat character is hilarious.Some of her funniest moments occur when she sits on a towel he puts on the sofa and she lost her train of thought while speaking. Isabella handles the transition to a more normal gal as the show goes on. Jonathan Perry II makes a gangbusters debut on the main stage. I have known him since he was a baby and he has grown into a wonderful, mature actor. Jonathan oozes with deviousness as Jason, Kim's boyfriend when he concocts the plan to make a bundle of money from Harris by selling his music online and then pretending he is deceased. His maneuvering his girlfriend is beautifully done. They shine in their scenes together. Tonya plays the role of Kim at alternating performances. What happens afterwards is sidesplitting and can't be revealed lest it spoil the show for the audience. So for a brand new well written comedy, be sure to catch "Harris Cashes Out" at the Newport Playhouse. You will enjoy an all you can eat buffet before the show and a fun filled cabaret after it. Producers Matt Siravo and Jonathan Perry have been bringing quality entertainment to appreciative audiences for the past 31 years.

"Harris Cashes Out" (18 September - 26 October)
@ 102 Connell Highway, NEWPORT RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide