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Phil Bosco and Carol Burnett on Broadway; PC: Joan Marcus

Northern Stage opens with hilarious Ken Ludwig farce

The Barre Montpelier Times-Argus
Montpelier, Vermont
Article published Oct 11, 2006
By Jim Lowe, White River Junction –

Ken Ludwig's "Moon Over Buffalo" is a silly and very funny farce, and its acid wit makes in even funnier. Northern Stage opened its 10th season last week with a production that doesn't let you stop laughing.

"Moon Over Buffalo" is a comedy about the theater. Set in 1953, has-been actors Charlotte and George Hay are struggling to keep their little company alive by performing abbreviated and hack versions of popular theater classics. It's so bad, they find themselves in Buffalo and unable to meet payroll.

In one day, their lives are turned upside down. Their daughter Rosalind, who has left the theater in search of sanity, returns to introduce her fiancé, the meek-and-mild weather man, Howard. But, it seems, Rosalind and the company manager, Paul, haven't quite gotten over their hot affair. Meanwhile, Charlotte learns that Eileen, the company ingénue, is pregnant with her husband George's child, so she is ready to leave him for Richard, the company's wealthy lawyer.

But, the announcement that the great film director Frank Capra is coming to check out the company changes everything – and all Hell breaks loose!

Northern Stage's production, directed by Catherine Doherty, the company's producing director, is fast-paced, well-cast and very, very funny. At Sunday's performance, there was no attempt to "interpret" or ham it up; rather, everything was straightforward and well-done, and the result was hilarious.

Michael Lopez and Cary Barker led a stellar cast as George and Charlotte Hay. They played their roles pretty much straight – except for when George was drunk – and it brought out all of Ludwig's infectious humor. Their interaction, too, was just so real, making it all the more convincing.

Kathryn Merry was also convincing as Rosalind, the exasperated daughter, who can't quite give up her former love – the theater. Thomas Kyle Miller was the charming lover as Paul, the company manager, while Scott Cote was deliciously earnest as Rosalind's fiancé Howard.

Northern Stage veteran Carolyn Gordon returned as Charlotte's acid-tongued mother. Laura Schwenninger was delightfully shallow as the expecting Eileen. Though a bit young for the part, Chris Vaughn was effective as the amorous lawyer Richard.

The key to the success of Northern Stage's production was that the actors did not attempt to be funny – the play is funny.


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