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Reviews

Cape Playhouse's 'Moon over Buffalo’ is hilarious

By Nicole Muller

DENNIS - From the opening jabs at the city of Buffalo (“If it wasn’t named for an animal, it would have nothing going for it”) to the closing deus ex machina plot twist, Ken Ludwig’s “Moon Over Buffalo” never falters or fails to produce side-splitting laughter.

Fading 1950s actors George and Charlotte Hay are performing “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Private Lives” in a Buffalo repertory theatre. With them are their daughter, Rosalind, who left the stage to lead a private life; Charlotte’s nearly deaf mother Ethel; Rosalind’s fiancee Howard, a TV weatherman; her ex-fiancee Paul, the company’s stage manager; Richard, a lawyer who is courting Charlotte; and Eileen, an actress who finds herself pregnant after a one-night-stand with George.

The obvious plot centers around the Hays’ big chance to be “discovered” by Frank Capra, who is losing the stars of his film in production, “The Scarlet Pimpernell,” and is flying in to see that day’s matinee of “Private Lives.” But the farcical relationships between the characters in their own private lives is far more central to the production.

The show’s complicated, fast-moving plot twists and madcap misunderstandings repeatedly illustrate Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and it does, until the closing scene. The actors’ pitch-perfect timing and smooth delivery make this show a must-see.

Gary Beach is brilliant as George, and Ruth Williamson expertly delivers Charlotte’s clever put-downs. Dennis summer resident, actress Alice Cannon, produces laughs whenever she appears on stage, portraying the little old deaf lady who knows the score (and hates George) with panache.

Director Richard Sabellico delivers a late-summer romp that couldn’t be more perfectly cast. Petite Jennifer Cody powerfully executes her role as Roz, and Danny Bernardy is the perfect, clueless weatherman Howard, comically attempting to swim the unpredictable tides of Roz’s kooky family. Jessiee Datino makes an impressive Playhouse debut as Eileen, the “damsel in distress,” while John Scherer convincingly portrays the “knight in shining armor.” Hunter Foster’s Richard is a critical player, hoping to run away with Roz to fulfill her dream of Hollywood stardom.

Richard Wadsworth Chambers’ set reflects both the production’s needs, with multiple doors available for slamming, and the kooky nature of the show, with its mounted deer head adorned with “the tools of the trade,“ a Zorro mask and white top hat.

Costume designer Gail Baldoni nails the challenge of dressing the characters alternately in 1950s attire and that of 17th-century France. The audience was on its feet a split second after the final,
appropriately surprising, line was delivered, cheering its appreciation for a hilarious trip to a time and place where anything can and does happen.

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