Monday, October 23, 2017
By Christine Facciolo
Ever wonder what goes on in the Green Room before a theatrical performance? Moon Over Buffalo offers a peek…plus a whole lotta laughs at Wilmington Drama League.
The year is 1953. The setting is Buffalo, New York (“Scranton without the charm.”) A touring company is performing Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and Noel Coward’s Private Lives at the Erlanger Theater. George and Charlotte Hay (Alan Harbaugh and Sabrina Justison) boast a long-standing marital and acting partnership, both of which have frayed at the edges. Then they learn that the great film director, Frank Capra, needs to re-cast a movie he’s making and is flying in from New York City to see them perform. This could be just what they need to recoup the stardom they’ve lost and feel they so richly deserve.
George has impregnated Eileen (Carolyn Peck), a young actress in the troupe. When Charlotte finds out, she tells him she’s fed up with his infidelity and is leaving him for their lawyer, Richard (Shawn Klein). Meanwhile, Rosalind Hay (Patricia Egner) has arrived to introduce her parents to her fiancé, Howard (Andrew Dluhy), a TV weatherman. He’s a geeky but affable TV weatherman who just happens to be a big fan of her parents. He loves Rosalind but is absolutely clueless about what’s going on, Rosalind, for her part, was in love with Paul (Luke Wallis), the Hays’ theatre manager, who still has feelings for her. Adding to the merriment is Ethel (Patricia Lake), Charlotte’s deaf-as-a-post stage mother who hates the boards George treads on and nearly brings him down with one innocent-looking coffee pot. Comic misunderstandings and mistaken identities abound.
Ken Ludwig’s 1995 madcap farce is still fresh in 2017 and just the ticket for an evening full of fun and laughter. Let’s not forget that this play was worthy enough to lure Carol Burnett back to Broadway after a 30-year absence and, if you didn’t know better, this superb production might have you believe you’re sitting in a theatre on the Great White Way. It’s that good.
Harbaugh and Justison simply melt into their roles. Harbaugh is brilliant as the very inebriated George. Peck applies just the right amount of affect to her role as the pregnant and distraught ingénue. Dhuly is convincingly clueless as the action swirls around him. Egner, Klein and Wallis know every nuance of their characters. Lake is downright hilarious as the hard-boiled stage mother/mother-in-law from hell.
Kudos to the directorial team of Gene Dzielak and Melissa Davenport (as well as mentor/director Ken Mammarella) who pulled everything together. Also deserving of a standing ovation are Helene and Tony DelNegro for their retro 1950s backstage set, Cara Tortorice for her fabulous costumes and Lee Jordan for choreographing the playful duel between the Hays.
This one is not to be missed.