Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Strange Bedfellows
Starlite Players
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of The Roommate

Joseph Rebella and Liz Pascoe
Photo by Don Walker/Starlite Players
On the second night of the run of Strange Bedfellows, "Four short comedies about the funny side of unlikely attractions," Starlite Players celebrated it's first anniversary. Happy anniversary to them and much continued success! They have performed 10 monthly weekend runs, encompassing 44 short plays. They are able to offer actors a small stipend for appearing, with hopes of raising same from an ongoing fundraising effort. The pool of actor and director participants has expanded greatly. They have had to move away from their original goal of producing original local work, and now they also incorporate some work that has been produced elsewhere, always listed in the program. Starlite Players is a great asset to the Sarasota theater world, offering evenings of merriment centered around a particular theme on the third weekend of every month.

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 Players—there 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

Ribbing Adam
Adam: Joseph Rebella
Gode: Ken Basque
Eve: Liz Pascoe
Serpent: Rik Robertson
Archie: Rafael petlock
Nancy: Jamie Lee Butrum
Liz: Grace Vitale
You, Me. Me, You.
Lexi: Eliza Lipton
Charlie: Ren Pearson
Object of Affection
Walt: Rafael Petlock
Morris: Philip Troyer
Eddie: Rik Robertson
Loni: Loni Marlowe (herself)

The Crew:
Producing Artistic director: Jo Morello
Technical Director: Steve Patmagrian
Stage Manager: Garry Allan Bruel
Production Coordinator: Jamie Lee Butrum
Sound Designer: Dorian Boyd
Webmaster & Photographer: Don Walker
Front of House: Joan Antonicelli, Sal Antonicelli
House Managers: Paz Cowen, Joan Antonicelli
Others in Various Capacities: Ken Erickson, Marie Kilker, Dick Pell, Cindy Schlotterback, James Thaggard, Tyler Yurckonis and The Starlite Room staff

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