Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Also see Bill's review of The Roommate
This month's program begins with Ribbing Adam by Richard J. Budin, directed by Jamie Lee Butrum and first produced at Island Community Theater, Treasure Island, Florida. It is yet another take on the Adam and Eve story. God is played by Ken Basque. He helps our none too bright Adam, Joseph Rebella, to understand how to deal with the more moody Eve, Liz Pascoe. Rik Robertson has a cameo as the Serpent. The play contains an arc of anachronisms that become a stylistic piece of the work, and a source of much of its comedy. Mr. Basque should campaign for one of the local community theaters to produce Stephen Schwartz's Children of Eden which contains a role (Father) for which he proves himself well suited. All of the actors catch the play's humorous rhythms, delighting the opening night audience.
Next up is Potential by Scott Mullen and directed by Daniel Greene. Rafael Petlock plays very much against type as our geeky hero Archie (it was only a few months ago that I stated he had a lock on cocky young men's roles). Grace Vitale plays his blind date Liz, a stylish career woman not well suited to him. Jamie Lee Butrum plays Nancy, a little more down to earth. The women compete for this man they believe shows potential.
After intermission is You, Me. Me, You. by Len Cuthbert which had a previous production at Falling Pennies Theatre, U.K. Featuring the youngest actress ever to appear on Starlite Players' stage, Eliza Lipton as Lexi, and Ren Pearson as Charlie, the play is directed by Jenny Aldrich Walker who lays claim to being the oldest participant at Starlite Players, but I'm not asking. The play is about two people at a high school reunion who don't recognize each other although they knew each other well. I won't reveal the surprise twist. Ms. Lipton and Mr. Pearson are able to catch the surface hilarity, but the deep undercurrents prove elusive, possibly because of the short time allowed for getting these playlets up on stage at all.
Object of Affection by Thomas J. Misuraca, directed by Daniel Greene, has had multiple previous productions, starting at Cockroach Theatre's Two Dollar Ten Minutes in Las Vegas. Gay couple Walt (Rafael Petlock) and Morris (Philip Troyer) are arguing about supporting friend Eddie (Rik Robertson) who is about to introduce them to his new amour. The amour turns out to be Loni, listed in the program as played by Loni Marlowe (herself), a chair. The play is merely a skit when it might have risen to levels of deep comic hilarity. All the actors get the laughs that are in the script and their timing is mostly quite fine.
Strange Bedfellows is probably the tightest evening Starlite Players has produced, thematically. Producer Jo Morello has said that getting submissions of suitable material has been their biggest problem, so perhaps the use of previously produced material was a necessity rather than a choice. Either way, it is working well for them, and the later evenings have shown a greater consistency than the earliest ones. After the performance, I stayed and mingled with the entire Lipton family, justly proud of daughter Eliza who has quite a resume including featured roles in Sunday in the Park with George and others at Manatee Players. I also spoke with Grace Vitale about her past local performances. That is yet another piece of why I love Starlite Playersthere is almost no wall between performers, staff and audiences. Best wishes for many more years.
Strange Bedfellows plays through July 17, 2016, presented by The Starlite Players at The Starlite Room, 1001 Cocoanut Avenue, Sarasota, FL. For more information, visit www.starliteplayers.com.