Monday, February 6, 2023

Theatre Review: One Man, Two Guvnors | Delaware Theatre Company

By Mike Logothetis
Theater reviewer Mike Logothetis grew up in North Wilmington, performing in school and local theater productions. He lives in Newark, but you can find him wherever the arts are good.


If you’re searching for an energetic jolt of live entertainment, look no further than the Delaware Theatre Company (DTC) and its production of the hilarious One Man, Two Guvnors. It’s a romp wrapped in a musical farce. And, if you’re lucky (or unlucky?), you may end up on stage as part of the action.
DTC's production of One Man, Two Guvnors.
Photo by Matt Urban/NĂ¼POINT Marketing

One Man, Two Guvnors
is an English adaptation of Servant of Two Masters, a 1743 commedia dell’arte work by Italian Carlo Goldoni. In 2011, English playwright Richard Bean replaced the Italian period setting of the original with 1963 Brighton, added original music by Grant Olding, and created a worldwide hit. The play was the launch vehicle for James Corden in America. In June 2012, Corden won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.

In this DTC production, the lead role of Francis Henshall is played skillfully by DJ Gleason. The easily confused Henshall makes his own life complicated by taking on more than his simple mind can handle. Gleason masterfully dances between scripted lines and improvisation while his character tries to please all parties involved in his current predicament. An argument that Henshall has with himself — which somehow turns violent — is a highlight of the show.

In a nutshell, the always-peckish Henshall becomes separately and concurrently employed by two men: gangster Roscoe Crabbe (Karen Peakes) and Stanley Stubbers (Jake Blouch), an upper-class buffoon. Henshall tries to keep his “guvnors” apart to avoid each of them learning that he is also working for someone else. 

Muddling events, Roscoe is really twin sister Rachel Crabbe in disguise. Roscoe had been killed by Rachel’s boyfriend…who is none other than Stanley. Complicating things further is local mobster Charlie the Duck (John Bellomo stood in for Peter DeLaurier on Opening Night) who has arranged an engagement between his daughter Pauline (Renee McFillin) and Roscoe. But Pauline only has eyes for actor Alan (Dave Johnson), the son of her father’s attorney (Bruce Graham). Amongst the chaos, Henshall has his romantic eye on Charlie’s bookkeeper Dolly (Kelly McCaughan). With Henshall in the middle, the chaotic swirl of characters keeps missing each other’s actions and antics. Thankfully, the audience sees it all.

The snappy writing by Bean modernizes the classic farce and upgrades much of the humor for today’s audiences. Between the cleverly terrible metaphors, there is substance to the script, however wacky the plot may be. For instance, the virginal Pauline so often misses the point that she is described as “unsoiled by education.” The second act’s deep discussion of debilitating and deadly diseases has more alliteration than this sentence…and is hysterical.

But, as in any farce, stage timing and physical comedy must shine. They do. Trembling octogenarian waiter Alfie (Brian McCann) steals a riotous lunch scene through physical humor alone. Feminist Dolly is overtly sexual and playful when being seduced. Alan’s passion for acting is so deep that he often prompts the audience to recognize his entrances before speaking or changes his spot mid-line to gain better light. The air of misguided entitlement around Stanley’s every movement is palpable.

Kudos to Colin McIlvaine for his inventive scenic design. His wonderful inside and outside sets allow for the wacky physical comedy to shine while keeping the world grounded in period reality.

Live music by Nero Catalano (Emmett Drueding stood in on Opening Night) and Andrew Nelson added a party atmosphere inside the theater. Scene changes meant live ditties with plot points mixed in with the song lyrics — not to mention guest musicians from the cast. Get ready for an energetic kazoo solo!

The cast regularly breaks the fourth wall with an infectious sense of wink-wink mischief. The audience seems to be intimately involved in the capers on stage, with the actors in on the joke. It’s as if everybody in the theater wants to squeeze one more laugh out of a gag. It’s all very, very funny.

One Man, Two Guvnors is the last show for 
outgoing Artistic Director Bud Martin. 

The performance schedule of One Man, Two Guvnors is: Wednesdays (2 p.m.), Thursdays (7 p.m.), Fridays (8 p.m.), Saturdays (2 & 8 p.m.), and Sundays (2 p.m.) through February 19. Tickets start at $29 while discounts are available for students, groups, and military members/veterans. The show is roughly two-and-a-half hours long with one 15-minute intermission. 

 There will be pre-show Viewpoints on Wednesdays at 1:15 p.m. during the run plus talkbacks after Thursday performances. Call (302)594-1100 or visit DelawareTheatre.org to purchase tickets or for performance information. Delaware Theatre Company is located at 200 Water Street in Wilmington.

Friday, January 13, 2023

DDOA Names 2023 Individual Artist Fellowships

The content of this post comes from a press release from the Delaware Division of the Arts...

Image detail: Artwork of Lauren E. Peters, 2023 Established Arts Fellow

The prestigious Individual Artist Fellowships from the Delaware Division of the Arts recognize artists in a variety of disciplines for their outstanding quality of work and provide monetary awards.

In 2023, the Division received work samples from 118 Delaware musicians, writers, and folk, media, and visual artists. The work samples were reviewed by out-of-state arts professionals who considered the demonstrated creativity and skill in each artist’s respective art form. Seventeen artists were awarded fellowships in the following categories — two Masters; seven Established; and eight Emerging. The 17 selected fellows reside throughout Delaware including Bridgeville, Claymont, Felton, Harrington, Lewes, Newark, Smyrna, and Wilmington.

NEW FOR 2023: Thanks to a generous increase in funding from the Department of State, the awards have increased — $5,000 for Emerging Artists; $8,000 for Established Professionals; and $12,000 for Masters — to allow artists to pursue advanced training, purchase equipment and materials, or fulfill other needs that will help advance their careers. This funding has also allowed the Division to award a second Masters Fellowship.

Master Fellowship ($12,000)

  • B. Proud — Visual Arts: Photography, Wilmington
  • TAHIRA  Folk Art: Oral Literature, Claymont

Established Fellowship ($8,000)

  • Joyce Barbagallo — Literature: Fiction, Wilmington
  • Ron Meick — Visual Arts: Sculpture, Wilmington
  • Michael Miller — Folk Art: Music, Felton
  • Mary Pauer — Literature: Creative Nonfiction, Bridgeville
  • Christopher Penna — Literature: Poetry, Newark
  • Lauren E. Peters — Visual Arts: Painting, Wilmington
  • IVA (Emily Tepe) — Music: Contemporary Performance, Wilmington

Emerging Fellowship ($5,000)

  • Jill Althouse-Wood — Visual Arts: Painting, Wilmington
  • Bryant (Tee) Bell — Visual Arts: Painting, Wilmington
  • Liz DeJesus — Literature: Creative Nonfiction, Wilmington
  • Constanza (Cony) Madariaga — Visual Arts: Painting, Wilmington
  • James Morgan — Media Arts: Video/Film, Harrington
  • Charlese Phillips — Visual Arts: Interdisciplinary, Smyrna
  • Kim Hoey Stevenson — Literature: Fiction, Lewes
  • Anne Yarbrough — Literature: Poetry, New Castle