‘Moon Over Buffalo’: Strong physical performances drive Sutter Street Theatre’s latest offering
The action and laughter is non-stop at Sutter Street Theatre’s latest offering, “Moon Over Buffalo,” which opened to a very receptive audience on Feb. 23.
In the theater it is common to wish actors good luck by saying “Break a leg!” But in this production, one wonders if that might actually happen. This is a physically demanding play.
Originally staged on Broadway in 1995, this play by Ken Ludwig is a situation comedy set in Buffalo, New York, in 1953.
The play centers on George and Charlotte Hay (delightfully portrayed by Allen Pontes and Julie Anchor), fading stars of the theater. They despise television, and feel passed over by the movies. (“The theater may be dying but it’s all we have. If it weren’t for it, we’d all be Republicans,” Charlotte says).
At the moment they’re playing “Private Lives” and “Cyrano De Bergerac” in rep theater with five actors. On the brink of a disastrous split-up caused by George’s dalliance with a young ingénue, they receive word that they might just have one last shot at stardom: Frank Capra is coming to town to see their matinee, and if likes what he sees he might cast them in his movie remake of “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”
Unfortunately for George and Charlotte, everything that could go wrong does go wrong, abetted by a visit from their daughter’s clueless fiancé Howard (Robert Dixon) and hilarious uncertainty about which play they’re actually performing, caused by Charlotte’s deaf old stage-manager mother, Ethel (Hazel Johnson), who hates every bone in George’s body.
Connie Mockenhaupt, director of the play, said this production “has been a sheer joy because of the people in it.” Dawn Towle (Roz), Brent Dirkson (Paul), Warren Harrison (Richard) and Shana McCarl (Eileen) round out the delightful cast of eight.
This play is chock-full of action, some zany zingers and lots of laughs.
Set and lighting design are by Mike Jimena, with costumes by Eileen Beaver. Alexis Espinoza (board operator) and Warren Harrison (sound) and Allen Schmeltz (jack of all trades) contribute to making this one of the most delightful plays I’ve attended in years.
Sutter Street Theatre doesn’t disappoint in this production – grab your tickets while they are still available.
“Moon Over Buffalo” runs through March 17. There are some mature themes, including sexual references, so parents should use their best judgment.
The Sutter Street Theatre is located at 717 Sutter St. in Folsom’s Historic District. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. General admission is $23 for adults, $21 for seniors and SARTA members, and $15 for children 12 and younger. For reservations call (916) 353-1001 or visit SutterStreetTheatre.com.
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