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Moon Over Buffalo at Providence College, RI

Humor abounds in Buffalo
The student-directed Moon Over Buffalo played for the last time at 12:30 a.m.
Annemarie Grandstrand '09
Issue date: 3/22/07 Section: Arts & Entertainment

At midnight on March 17, the Moon Over Buffalo was visible for the last time during its weekend-long run. Although it had been a long St. Patrick's Day, there was no sign of fatigue among the cast members. Their high-energy performance of Ken Ludwig's play turned the John Bowab Studio Theatre into a caged arena for warring inflated egos. I may have dragged my body into the Smith Center at an inconvenient time, but was delightfully pleased with what I found inside.

Directed by theatre major, Brett Epstein '09, Moon Over Buffalo is a slapstick comedy about traveling actors who are presented with the opportunity for their big break. Described as "Scranton without the charm," Buffalo, N.Y. seems to be a dead end until famous film director, Frank Capra, shows interest in George (Marc Francis '10) and Charlotte Hay's (Amy Hogan '08) show. However, careers that once appeared quite put together seem to fall apart. George's affair with squeaky-voiced actress, Eileen (Lauren Walker '09), produced not just a slight rift in his marriage to Charlotte but also an illegitimate pregnancy with Eileen. Charlotte, originally played by Carol Burnett in 1995, eventually succumbed to her lustful agent, played by Alex Curran '10. The third love triangle involves their daughter, Roz (Talia Pinzari '10), who was leaving her clammy-handed new boyfriend, endearingly played by Peter Cunis '10, for an old, persistent flame, Paul (Stephen Orlando '10).

Each character was well-developed, with his or her own shtick to offer. For those who aren't the biggest readers and opt to let the King Lear jokes fly over their head, there was still a simpler humor. Cunis played the quickly-chucked boyfriend and utilized his profession as a meteorologist to slip in dorky yet precious jokes, such as, "It's all barometric pressure anyways."

Most of the play was consumed by Hollywood ambition and teenage rebellion. George and Charlotte attempted to salvage their marriage while their daughter rejected the theater life for the advertising business. Moving at record speed, the plot allowed little time to wallow in pity for one character alone. Each befuddled player had his or her own problem to resolve.

Just when the stage seemed to spiral into a maelstrom of hilarious arrogance, name-calling, and unearthed affairs, in shuffled the grandmother to the ruckus backstage.

Lauren Annicelli '09, who played the grandmother, tactfully balanced the play's constant flurry of dramatics with her sarcasm and wit. Annicelli's character played an integral element in the play's comedic formula. Toward the end of the second act, when furniture and people didn't seem to do anything but knock each other over, the physical comedy reached its peak. The clever innuendo-based jokes and pointed Shakespearean references kept the play humorous. Annicelli's wisecracks were never overdone and always delivered with excellent timing.

Hogan struck an impressive balance of nagging wife, forgiving lover, ambitious actress, and sharp-tongued daughter. If someone should attempt to chalk up her contribution to the play to its nimble writing, he or she must be reminded of how Carol Burnett was clearly channeled in Hogan's facial expressions alone. Opposite Hogan's character, Francis can be commended for his drunken performance in the second act. Although I'm sure half the audience might have already witnessed a few inebriated souls go from drunken stupor to overly dramatic tirade that day, Francis should be congratulated for convincingly portraying that state without the research.

The energy of the plot remained at a high pace due to the quick-witted dialogue combined with a few slow characters. Entrances and exits came from every possible angle on the stage, allowing the viewers to feel as though they were sitting on the couch on stage with the grandmother nudging their elbows with amusing one-liners.

Although the play was scheduled quite late and actually started 28 minutes later, there wasn't an audience member who could deny the stage managing grandmother a laugh when she would playfully dust her bottle of Jim Bean. Complete with wide-ranging approaches to comedy from slapstick physical humor to clever wordplay, Moon Over Buffalo deserved all the laughs it got.

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