The second show of The Players 95th season is Neil Simon's 1968 hit comedy, "Plaza Suite". The action of the play takes place in room 719 at The Plaza Suite luxury hotel in New York City. The first segment is about a couple celebrating their 23 or 24 anniversary in the room they spent their honeymoon in, only the wife figures out her husband is cheating on her with his secretary, finding her marriage in tatters. The second scene is about a Hollywood producer returning to NY after his three failed marriages to try to reconnect with his childhood sweetheart from New Jersey. The final scene is about a mother and father fighting with each other on how to get their daughter out of the locked bathroom on her wedding day. Director Alma Fontana picks the most talented performers to portray these characters and keeps the pace of the show flowing throughout each scene, leading to a very successful evening of comedy at its best.
Alma's blocking of the scenes is superb. She keeps the cast in constant motion in the gorgeous two room hotel set by Eleanor Boober.(The room is done in a gold curtain decor and four chandeliers adorn each room.) Her hard working stage manager, Lydia Matteson keeps things running smoothly onstage and backstage with the lighting and sound handled by Melanie Estes while the numerous props are taken care of by Barbara Green and Eva-Marie Coffey. Alma runs a well organized show from start to finish and it shows in the finished product.
Carole Battaglia commands the first scene from beginning to end. She makes Karen Nash who is a scatterbrain about numbers but who understands human emotions, a tower of strength. Carole handles the dramatic and comic moments brilliantly and interacts with the other three actors in her scene perfectly. She is a consummate actress in every show I've seen her in. Her dour husband, Sam is played by veteran Player's actor, Walter Cotter. He plays the vain 51 year old who is afraid of growing fatter and older by deciding to have an affair with a younger woman. Walter portrays this man's callous and heartless treatment of his wife very well. (George Billings plays the bellhop and waiter in this scene, a waiter in the second one and the bridegroom in the third, giving an energetic performance in each part. Sarah Bernier portrays Jean McCormack, the secretary Sam is having the fling with in scene one and the frightened bride, Mimsey in the final scene, making the most of her time on the stage.)
The second scene is a hoot. Jim Brown as Jesse Kiplinger and Carole Collins as Muriel Tate are excellent. He is a smarmy, womanizing producer who after 3 failed marriages, decides to bed his old girlfriend from New Jersey by getting her drunk on vodka stingers. He constantly preens in the mirror while wearing a bright yellow jacket from the ' 60's and a yellow turtleneck sweater. Jim's seduction moves are hilarious. Carole is just as funny with her nervous ex-girlfriend of a now famous Hollywood producer who knows everything about him. Her drunken scene is perfectly portrayed with a progression of believable drunken behavior, leading to much laughter. Also Jim and Carole's facial expressions and reactions keep everyone in stitches, too. The final scene is another humorous slice of life, taking place on the wedding day of the nervous bride who locked herself in the john. Angie Margiotta plays the agitated mother, Norma who is worried about what the guests are going to think. She rips her stockings and almost has a heart attack while yelling at her husband and daughter. Tom DiMaggio plays her husband, Roy who climbs out a window ledge, gets drenched in a thunderstorm, has his tuxedo jacket ripped up the seam and almost breaks his arm trying to batter down the bathroom door. This slapstick scene is well done by Tom and Angie with some of Neil Simon's best one liners in it. So for a wonderful evening of entertaining comedy, be sure to catch "Plaza Suite" at The Players. Just call or email Lydia to become a member of this theatre club.