EXTRA MATINEE ADDED ON SATURDAY, JUNE 16! TICKETS: adobetheater.org, 505.898.9222
Writer and director Ken Ludwig is a master of farce, and the cast at The Adobe Theater does him proud with their rendition of Moon Over Buffalo. If you haven’t seen it yet, get over there this weekend for the grand finale. The theater has added a performance due to popular demand, so tickets in advance are necessary.
George and Charlotte Hay (John Wylie and Carolyn Hogan) are playing in Cyrano de Bergerac and Private Lives, in repertory, at the Erlanger Theatre in Buffalo, N.Y. The fact that these are two very different plays is only one of the set-ups leading to hilarity down the road. The Hays are down on their theatrical luck, until George gets a call from famous movie director Frank Capra, asking him and Charlotte to audition for roles in The Twilight of the Scarlet Pimpernel, in lieu of Ronald Colman and Greer Garson; Colman has broken his leg. Capra says he will fly to Buffalo that evening to see George and Charlotte perform.
George tries to tell this amazing news to Charlotte but she is totally focused on the unwelcome fact that one of the actresses in their company, Eileen (Ericka Zepeda), has had a one-night stand with George and is now pregnant. Charlotte packs to leave; thinking that their chances for movie stardom are tanked, George gets sloshed; Charlotte’s selectively deaf mother, Ethel (Alaina Warren Zachary), has a hand in screwing up the schedule of plays; and their daughter Rosalind “Roz” Hay (Abriana LaValley) comes home to show off her new fiancé, Howard (Daniel Anaya). Oh, and Paul (Edward Hein, who is the company manager and Roz’s ex-fiancé, still loves her. The family lawyer, Richard (Timothy J. Kupjack), wants to elope with Charlotte.
Strictly unnecessary, but I’ll say it anyway: complications ensue. Big time. Director Lewis Hauser makes sure the entrances and exits are perfectly timed, thanks to a multilevel set that works flawlessly due to Set Designer Linda Wilson’s understanding of farce. Moon Over Buffalo is a bedroom farce like Ludwig’s first Broadway hit, Lend Me a Tenor, only without the bedroom. Doors open and close on cue, people are shoved offstage and lugged back on again and, in a memorable comic bit, a hog-tied Howard bounces across the stage pleading, “Call the police!”
None of this blissful hysteria would work if it wasn’t for the comic timing of the cast and their skills at physical comedy. Wylie as George gets a medal for grace under drunkness. Hogan as Charlotte is tough and tender, and LaValley is definitely her mother’s daughter. Zepeda looks and speaks as if she belongs in the 1950s and is a wonderful ensemble player. Anaya, Hein, and Kupjack as the male contingent who love them are lovable in themselves. Audience favorite Warren Zachary is pitch perfect as screwball mother-in-law Ethel and definitely from New Yawk. It’s a great and funny role and she embraces it.
This cast works together to create a terrific audience experience; you might want to see it twice. Thanks to the precise choreography of fencing coach Pete Parkin, no critics sitting in the first row were harmed during this performance.
—Stephanie Hainsfurther publishes ABQArts.com.
Photos courtesy of The Adobe Theater and Carolyn Hogan.
Moon Over Buffalo plays through June 17th at The Adobe Theater, 9813 4th Street NW. Friday & Saturday evenings at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2:00pm. ADDED MATINEE SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 2 P.M. General Admission $20, Discount $17 (Seniors, Students, ATG/PBS Members, Military, First Responders).