Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
The plot is so convoluted that there is no point in trying to outline it. There are multiple pairs of lovers, mismatched for much of the action until Francis Henshall, the "one man" of the title helps get things sorted out. Connor Carew affably plays Francis, who is mostly focused on keeping himself fed and above the chaos. Christina King as Pauline and Tommy Crawford as Alan Dangle are one pair of lovers. He is a way over the top wannabe actor and she is a blonde of no particular intelligence, but they love each other. Mr. Crawford also does double duty as a member of the Band who entertain before, during, and after the show with songs that comment on the action. Amy Hutchins as Rachel Crabbe and Montgomery Sutton as Stanley Stubbers are the second pair. Teddy Yudain offers much of the strongest hilarity as Alfie, a very old waiter, also doubling in the band. Others contributing to the merriment include Vanessa Morosco as Dolly, Wilbur Edwin Henry as Charlie "The Duck" Clench, and Cat Patterson as a member of the ensemble who has a funny sequence just prior to the end of act one.
The production, directed by Joseph Discher, is funny, just not as funny as it could be if the acting were sharper. There are some broad comedy sequences for Francis Henshall which have to have room for improvisation and to breathe, but most of the script is classic farce, doors opening as others are closing, people narrowly missing each other, and general mayhem, which needs razor sharp pacing. Scenic designs by Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay are excellent, although Brighton is never clearly delineated. Costumes by Tristan Raines are among the production's strongest assets, perfectly displaying the excesses of the era. Lighting by Micheal Foster is excellent.
Note: I was lucky enough to get the chance to revisit this fantastic production of West Side Story on December 2, 2015. Not quite halfway through the run the production looks just as crisp as it did on opening weekend. The dancing is still sharp and brilliantly executed, and everything I loved about it the first time is just as good the second time around. One thing I noticed in greater detail this time was how brilliant the lighting design by Brian Nason is, adding emotional shading to so many moments in the show. Do not miss West Side Story. I doubt this area will see a production this fine in what is left of my lifetime.
Florida Studio Theatre presents One Man, Two Guvnors through January 10, 2016, at the Gompertz Theater 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota. For tickets and performance information, please call the box office at (941) 366-9000 or visit www.floridastudiotheatre.org.
Cast (in order of appearance):
Directed by Joseph Discher