Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Wally's Cafe"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2003 by Tony Annicone

"Wally's Cafe"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The latest show at Newport Playhouse is the gag filled comedy, "Wally's Cafe". This three character play is about a Rhode Island couple who open a diner in the California desert near Las Vegas in 1959 and their first customer from Quincy, MA who wants to become a Hollywood actress. The show is done in three scenes, following their exploits in 1976 and 2003. The show gets progressively funnier after the opening exposition with each character having their funniest moments in each different scene. (The last one is hilarious where you find the couple as old folks leaving their desert cafe.) Director Matt Siravo casts these three role beautifully and they sustain your interest from start to finish with their humorous antics and talented portrayals.

Not only does Matt think up clever sight gags and shtick for this show, he also has set designer, Gene Dufault build a realistic cafe for the set complete with black and white checkerboard tile floor. He also has a jukebox which is used throughout the show as well as a giant hamburger, counter and stool seats. Another humorous touch is a menu board that shows how the hamburger price increases from scene to scene. Stage manager, Nishan Lawton keeps the show moving and props mistress, Sandi Nicastro changes the the set from one time period to the next by doing a dance one time to the music and by pretending not being able to hang the sign in another. Matt's expert direction keeps this show's running time at 90 minutes so you never lose interest in it.

The bickering but loving couple from Little Rhody, Wally and Louise, is played by Eddie Rocha and Patty Mott. They both capture the flavor of the newcomers from the East coast in the first scene. Louise hates the desert locale during the whole show and longs to return home to the snow,(The audience groaned at that line after our very snowy winter.) while Wally basks in owning his first business in the middle of nowhere. (He serves his mother's stringy pot roast but his Wally burger sounds even worse because besides two pickles, mustard and ketchup, he puts a piece of cabbage in it, too!) The second scene shows that they are old hands at the restaurant business even though it still isn't as successful as it could be because Wally built it so far back from the road. The couple has strayed from each other during the years and when Patty tops Eddie's affairs three to two while yelling at him on the floor, it produces a multitude of laughter from the crowd. Even though the second scene is Patty's funniest, it is in the last scene where her talent for playing an older woman shines brightly. She walks, talks and acts like a woman twice her age while dressed in a matronly pantsuit and does it in a believable manner which is difficult for a younger person but she handles it with ease. Eddie, a natural born comic, dominates this final scene as the forgetful old man who keeps exiting the stage and wanders back on wondering what he was supposed to be doing. He also shows the aging of Wally in each scene but it is as the older man that he shows his talent off in the most. Eddie and Patty play this couple perfectly, capturing the highs and lows during their lives which shows their talent in these two enormous roles.

The final member of this trio is Lisa Reimer as Janet, the would be starlet. She makes her first entrance in a blonde wig and uses a high pitched voice as the airhead bimbo. Janet shows the couple her talent in the "Red Robin" song where Lisa reminds you of Lena Lamont the talentless singer from "Singing In the Rain". (In real life Lisa is a terrific singer and dancer so this makes her portrayal of Janet a hoot!) She steals this scene as this talentless girl and receives applause both after her dance and on her final exit, too.) In the next scene, she wears a more subdued blonde wig and we find out what has happened to her during this time. (She shoots her cheating husband in the family jewels and lets us know about her exploits in Hollywood, Wally, Louise and her affairs and her eventual return to the cafe as a waitress.) Janet returns in the last scene as a wealthy woman, to bring good news to her friends at the cafe, bringing the show to a delightful and happy ending. In this scene, Lisa is a brunette and dressed in a Maude-like outfit to show how she has aged. It is in this scene where you see Janet's tenderness to the older couple and Lisa delivers the touching lines with the right amount of pathos to them. All the actors handle their transitions from scene to scene beautifully. ( To give anymore details about what actually happens will spoil the ending of this show for the audience. So for a fun filled evening, full of food, a show and a cabaret afterward, be sure to catch "Wally's Cafe". You won't be disappointed. (The funniest song in the cabaret is "Always a Bridesmaid and never a Bride" with the girls in very ugly bridesmaid gowns.)

"Wally's Cafe" (16 May - 13 July)
104 Connell Highway, NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401)848-PLAY

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide