Review of Dearly Beloved

Review by Jan Toth

I haven’t made it to any of the Pinewood Players productions for a couple of years. Boy do I miss that, especially after seeing this play, Dearly Beloved! This is the story of three sisters, the singing Sermonettes, who gather in their home town of Fayro, Texas for the wedding of Frankie Futrelle Dubberly’s twin daughter, Tina Jo. As in a lot of families, the three sisters have been harboring a family feud. Two sisters, Frankie and Twink have been on the “outs” with sister Honey Raye for many years. But Honey Raye, played by the ever amazing and talented, Cheryl Parker, is home for her nieces wedding and to tell her sisters that she is moving back. A recently deceased citizen has left her a home and his business. I particularly loved her accent… can I get one too?

Twink, played hilariously by Pam Uveges, is very upset to see Honey Raye back and doesn’t hesitate to tell her. Twink is also in charge of the wedding dinner, and in her efforts to “save money,” the dinner becomes a potluck, a very sketchy pot luck! Twink also has an ulterior motive to make sure this wedding goes off as scheduled. She has met with a “Psychic” played by Dovie Templin, who tells her that she sees Twink getting married IF her boyfriend of 15 years hears wedding vows within 24 hours! Oh, my does that inspire Twink to see that the wedding goes off as planned and on time.

Mother of the bride, Frankie Futrelle Dubberly, is played perfectly by Ele Parrott and her real life husband, Don Parrott, is also her husband in this production. They had a lot of chemistry!! Dub has a secret that Frankie thinks she has figured out… The “Gone with the Wind” dress Frankie wore fit the wedding theme perfectly, and there were audible gasps when Honey Raye entered in her black and gold dress or maybe long blouse.

The bride and her twin sister, Gina Jo were both played by Lori Prescott. I recognized the name but not sure if I have seen her in plays or somewhere else. I’ll remember her now! She was excellent in this production. Even though Tina Jo was only in the very beginning of the play, Lori used different tones and inflections for each character. Bravo!

Linda Morrison’s portrayal of the soon-to-be evil mother-in-law made for automatic dislike and laughter as she gets her comeuppance. Patsy Price tries to stop the marriage and pays her son to break it off. To her dismay, John Curtis, the Sheriff, heads out to catch the runaway couple but gets back and tells the two families that the two lovebirds, were already married. John Curtis is played by Rich Dahl who does his usual superb job.

In order to get her boyfriend, Wiley Hicks, to the wedding, Twink over medicates the ailing Wiley. Larry Clow as Wiley is wonderful. Over the years, I’ve fallen in love with Chip Christensen’s “drunks,” but Larry Clow can definitely fill the bill. The Wedding Coordinator/Flower Shop Owner/Bus Stop manager is played by Dolores Lanier. She had several great one-liners as she tried to keep the wedding guests occupied while the Sheriff brought the bride and groom back. Luckily the bride’s twin sister Gina Jo was available to don the veil and hopefully keep the guest satisfied. The “boy” Gina Jo is interested in turns out to be Justin Waverly, played by Darvin Bussey. Justin is a seminary student working at UPS and now standing in for the Minister who was taken to the drunk tank. He is nervous and often prays for the Lord’s assistance since he’s never done this before. He also prays for the Lord to give him a sign that the girl he has a crush on is interested in him. Guess who the girl is!

Frankie starts out with a worried look, and a lot of talking to her recently deceased mother, not just because of all the chaos to the wedding, but she’s worried that Dub is cheating on her and she’s been going more often to a doctor, and the test results are in! No, I’m not going to tell you. Dub is cooking all the meat in a pit out back of the Fellowship Hall in his white tux! I could smell the aroma in row E!

So we end with: Do the bride and groom return? Is Dub cheating on Frankie? Do the Sermonettes reunite? Does Twink get her man? Does Honey Raye find husband number six? Is Gina Jo interested in Justin or just his uniform? And last but not least, what is wrong with Frankie?

The actors as always are amazing each and every one of them. It was a most enjoyable experience and a fun time.

The Pinewood Players sets are always the star of the show and there were many things in the set that were so well done. Kudos to you all. There is a new “thing” – a lighted window size back drop off to the left that allows the actors to have different “sets” behind them pertinent to the play. For instance the flower shop; train station, back yard of the church for the bbq pit. It’s a nice addition and probably a lot easier than making and changing sets. The only down side was the gentleman in the row in front of me totally blocked the people who were in front of the screen, but only for the first half of the play.

If you get a chance, please see this play directed by the inimitable, Lynn Rouyer. You will recognize her from performances in the past and also her directing of other productions. Great play, Great actors, great sets and all around great people!

Review of Said the Spider to the Spy

By Penny Petersen        

It is amazing what nine actors and a good director can do with a far from adequate script. Doug Pusateri and his cast brought life to what could have been a slow and plodding theatre experience. “Said the Spider to the Spy” by Fred Carmichael tries to make an artificially contrived plot believable. He failed. But the Pinewood Players actors and stage crew, all amateurs, did what the playwright could not–perform a miracle in breathing life, fun, enjoyment and laughs to the production.

Carol Jones as Ida Gormley and Gina Burton as Augusta Waycross led the romp. Gina is a relative newcomer to Pinewood Players and has now established her place as a leading lady. Carol Jones was a hoot. Carol Jones is always a hoot. Her face grimaces, smiles, and looks sneaky at all the right times, and her body language says as much as her mouth.

Bonnie Jarvis as Ruth St. Martin brought pizzazz to a part that could have been boring if not played with Bonnie’s ever dependable energy. Speaking of energy, Darvin Bussey needed a ton of it as Byron Peters. He got in and out of the window seat and popped up 11 times. His portrayal of Peters as a drugged detective was hilarious.

Kassie Walters sparkled as Julia Sibley. As the “pretend” Julia, the New York accent was spot on and the voice appropriately grating. I laughed out loud when she changed to her other voice. Bill Kane’s mobster accent was also effective. Anyone who can create two different character voices in one play and bring the audience along deserves five stars.

Marsha Propps as Adele Addison was appropriately tolerant and then impatient with the friends and strangers who invaded her home. The script creates a situation that a homeowner would never tolerate. Propps, one of PWP’s most dependable and talented actresses, made us believe that a slew of strangers filling her home was an “interesting encounter.” Joe Burton as her husband, Dexter Addison, was believably stuffy but very patient with his wife.

Last, but not least, was Clyde Morrison as “man”, a lost soul who wandered in and out of the scenes with a totally blank look on his face and an effect body slump. His put-on amnesia and spaced out portrayal created both laughs and empathy.

Throughout all of the above, the effective staging and movement coaching of Director Doug Pusateri was evident. He has impeccable comic timing when he’s an actor, and he carries that over into directing as well. In community theatre, directing is the most difficult job. It includes selecting the script, planning and supervising scene design, lighting, backstage operations, publicity, and program information. All of that in addition to the director’s normal job—working with actors and interpreting the play. Assisting Doug were Pam Solace (Assistant director) Phyllis Schurz (Stage Manager) and her crew (Joan Lloyd and Dorothy Darden). They kept the crazy entrances and exits and costume changes clicking. Donna Slocum’s costumes fit the characters to a tee, and Dovie Templin’s make-up effectively withstood the bright lights and chase scenes,

Gary Padgett’s set design perfectly fit the play. All those doors, a window seat, and a waterfront background were skillfully executed by Dave Westmark’s crew of eight construction workers and several painters.

Theatre is nothing if you can’t see it or hear what’s going on. So, Kudos to sound and lights: Kathy Abramowitz and Zack Romero. By the way, Zack is now in college studying tech theatre.

Also essential are a program (Jean Kane), a house manager (Nancy DelDuca), ushers (there were 16 volunteers), and a cast party at the end (Miles & Kathleen Hodges).

There were 55 volunteers working on this production. That doesn’t count the PWP Board, nor does it include employees of PWCC who support the effort and assist with the Pinewood Playhouse upkeep. For every actor on-stage, it takes at least 5 people in supporting roles.

If you missed seeing “From the Spider to the Spy” you missed a very, very worthwhile community event. Don’t miss another one. “Bus Stop” directed by John Edmonds opens July 29 for six performances. “Dearly Beloved” directed by Lynn Rouyer, opens August 18.   During July PWP has Drama Camp for young people and teens. Their productions, “We the People” and “Zombie Night!” are open to the public as well.

SUPPORT THIS THRIVING THEATRE! Plus, you’ll have a great time.

Review of Whose Wives are the Anyway?

Reviewed by Clyde Morrison

Whose Wives is a farce about two executives of a cosmetic company who plan to spend a weekend at a golf resort while their wives shop. Their company has been sold, and they want a last hurrah before the new CEO arrives. At the golf resort, before they can start the golfing, the CEO arrives and wants to meet their wives, stating that she would not have executives who went golfing without their wives. So the two executives played by Doug Pusateri and John Edmonds have to come up with two wives on the spur of the moment.

Usually in these reviews I try to recognize actors who are especially good. In this play it is impossible to select. All the performers were spot on which made the play an outstanding show with continual side-splitting laughter throughout. The executive golfers, David and John Baker were played by Doug Pusateri of the extremely expressive face and John Edmonds who quickly got in and out of a red dress and wig, jumped over beds, fell into beds with different characters, all showing an athletic ability. These two were masters of comic timing and kept the hilarity up. We have seen Doug in other Pinewood shows, but this was the first one for John. What a pair of livewires.

Another new performer was Georgia Osborne as the hotel manager who tried to keep sanity and decorum in her hotel. Although she tried to remain firm in a resolve to contain the sexual activity, she was always getting shoved into bed with someone. While this was Georgia’s first acting appearance on the main stage, it will definitely not be her last. She was able to keep that serious tone, no matter what was taking place around her.

Another novice to the main stage was Frank Hess who played the hypochondriac, Wilson. While Hess has been involved with the Pinewood Players for many years directing shows, creating set designs and backstage jobs, he has seldom been on the stage. As Wilson the “gofer” handyman, Frank was so hilarious that all he had to do was open his mouth and the audience was in hysterics. He had an ailment for every job the manager had for him, and his timing in observing and reacting to the sexual activities of the guests was right on.

Judy Christiansen has been in many of the Pinewood Player’s comedies and she was at her best as the confused girl who was willing to play John Baker’s fake wife for a carload of cosmetics.  And, her drunk scene in Baker’s room was a classic.

Susan Liberty, the new CEO of the cosmetic company, D.L Hutchinson, was very believable in her attempt at keeping family important with her executives. Every comedy needs a fall guy or a butt of the zany activities. Susan played this very serious executive until the surprise ending when her husband called her on the phone.

In this play, even the minor characters were excellent. Phyllis Schurz as Kathy, Doug Pusateri’s wife, was very believable as she wanted to get even with her husband who she thought was playing around with another women. Her planning was a little off-center as she didn’t realize that D.L. Hutchinson was a woman, and that the man she got for Laura, John Edmond’s wife, was the odd ball hypochondriac Wilson. Laura Elam, Laura, was her typically fine performer as a talented sobbing, babbling wife who couldn’t understand her husband messing with another woman.

The construction crew again measured up to the task of creating a difficult stage with two levels (for the hotel’s main lobby on one level and the hotel rooms on another.) In addition there were seven doors on the set. This crew must use magic to come up with such a believable set. Once again the crew was led by Dave Westmark and Stewart Lanier and included Al Bagley, Ken Carter, Jim Schurz, Frank Uveges, Zach Romero, Stan Alf, Melanie Westmark, and Harold Winters. I heard they were putting in a forty hour week, but it looks like they put in more than that. Wow, what a crew!

Pinewood Players is getting more and more technically proficient with the sound and lighting. While the audience doesn’t always recognize what is going on, we know that it is all fitting together.   In this performance Roger Saulnier handled the sound and Stewart Lanier and Les Maurseth handled the lights. Outstanding work, men. All put together, this was one of the finest performances I have seen on our stage. Now get your season tickets for next year. These shows are all selling out and are a lot of fun. I can’t wait for the shows of 2016.

Review of Be My Baby

Be My Baby both Funny and Poignant

By Penny Petersen

Be My Baby was a huge undertaking for Pinewood Players director Bill Kane and producer Jean Kane. Scenes shift 23 times, four actors play 13 different off-beat characters, and two leading roles require a Scottish accent; all of this on a stage way too small for the play’s enormity. Given the above potential pitfalls, the impossible happened: the Ken Ludwig comedy came to life, and audiences loved it.

Director Bill Kane worked wonders with his cast. His perception of the characters and his ability to coax emotion from actors assured that characters came alive and communicated real feelings throughout.

Les Maurseth led the cast as John with a Scottish accent that was superlative. He was the perfect curmudgeon. As he changed into a softer character, watching him cuddle a doll was wholly believable. Linda Morrison as Maud was appropriately stuffy and bitchy at first, then gradually became a vulnerable complex woman. We never knew why they hated each other at the beginning, but as they developed, we started rooting for them.

Michael Hull played the charming yet wishy-washy Christy spot on. His Scottish accent was wonderful, and his use of dramatic pauses and facial expressions at key moments brought admiration from this director. Melanie Hull had a challenge in portraying Gloria. The character is described as young, selfish, emotional, wild and loveable. Taking those conflicting characteristics and creating a person with whom audiences could empathize was tough. She was up to the task.

Lee Henry, Dolores Lanier, Clyde Morrison and Pam Uveges played the 13 supporting roles. In each case, they made the most of the little the playwright gave them and added to the humor with their delivery. Lanier as the housekeeper had a good Scottish accent and was saucy in both that role and the one as the nurse. Henry as the tipsy parson was perfect, and I particularly liked his Dimitri. Morrison who stole the show with his waiter portrayal, and Uveges played 4 roles, her best being Beverly, the social worker.   Again, Bill Kane’s influence can be seen.

From a technical standpoint, Baby presented many challenges. Jean Kane’s concept of using rear projections solved the difficult problem of scene changes. The rear projection screen gave credible backgrounds for nine different locations. And at the end of the play, there were several slides depicting what happened after the story ended. They were delightful. The split curtain below the slide screen allowed for moving furniture in and out. With 23 scene changes, that means at least 23 costume changes as well, not to mention the myriad of props, and a ton of sound and light ques. PWP building crew did a marvelous job of creating three individual acting areas on a stage adequate for only one. Plus, the set decoration gave a warm feel to Christy’s home and a cooler feel to the San Francisco hotel.

If you’ve never been backstage at the Pinewood Playhouse, it is tiny. With eight actors, eight backstage assistants, and Dotty Young operating the slide show, it was a miracle nobody got hurt or failed to show up for entrances. Credit goes to stage manager Ron Young for keeping things flowing.

With 23 scene changes, actors changing costume every time they leave the stage, and a collection of props that included two baby dolls, there are going to be a few glitches. Several of the scenes which utilized slides were slow in getting started allowing the momentum of the play to temporarily drop. But audiences were patient, and the pace picked up as soon as the lights came up.

The quality of acting and production achieved by PWP never ceases to amaze me. The hundreds of hours of work and dedication by actors, directors, technicians, and all the volunteers is incredible. All the residents of Munds Park should appreciate what a jewel they really have.

Review of Through the Looking Glass

Reviewed by Clyde Morrison

It is always interesting to go to the younger versions (this one of 7 to 11 year olds) of Pinewood Players. Sometimes you’ll see accomplished actors who project their voices and act like veterans with mature hand and body movements. And sometimes you see young people just acting like young people. Through the Looking Glass had some of each. The director, Debbie Ryder, had more youngsters in her camp than she had parts in the play, so she double and triple cast some of the larger roles. In the program it listed who was Alice in the first scene and who was Alice in the second and third scenes. Since the multiple leading characters wore the identical costumes, it was easy to keep track of the actors. It all worked out well and we got to see several more actors that way. I particularly enjoyed the three Alices. All three were excellent but each had a different style. The first Alice, Lila Williams, played it straight and did a fine job. The second Alice was more animated and kept moving, especially in the Humpty Dumpty scene, making the scene come alive with activity while the solo by Humpty was being done by Houston Hull. That was one of my favorite parts of the whole show. And, the third Alice gave a very polished and mature control of the stage, indicating to me that she had experience as an actress. She was played by Makenna Jones. Another highlight from the show was the ending where all three sang together in the final number.

I know that Houston Hull had been with the Pinewood Players camps shows before, and his experience really showed in his Humpty Dumpty. He had a lot of lines to memorize, and he did them extremely well. In addition to a fine voice, his hand and body motions were those of experience on the stage. The whole Humpty Dumpty scene was probably the audience’s favorite scene in the play.

I also enjoyed the humor that the red and white knights put out. The white knight won their battle and demanded that the red knight call for mercy. The red knight refused for some time, but when the white knight threatened to run him through while he was on his back on the ground, the red knight meekly said “mercy.” Both boys had good speaking voices even though they seemed young. However, they both stood tall in their parts. Well done.

I couldn’t keep track of all the fine voices in the performance. Some were typically nervous and quietly spoke their lines on the stage, and others came right out and projected their voices so well that I’m sure the last row had no trouble hearing them. Even those in small parts did quite a job. Chloe Herron, for instance, had a small part as a hot dog salesman, but her voice was one of the best for projecting. I am always amazed at the memorization that all the actors and actresses did. They had to memorize their parts, their songs and their choreography. What a job to be accomplished in such a short time.

Kudos to the adults who guided these young actors and actresses. The program did not list the people who did the costumes and painted the scenery on the sets, but what a fantastic job. Each of the characters, all 25 or so of them, had a very bright and beautiful costume. It made for a complete and enjoyable show. This has to be one of the finest drama camps for youngsters in the state. Now we can just imagine what the next show of the teenage camp will be like. See you there.

Review of Wipeout

Reviewed by Clyde Morrison

Wipeout was the Tween Drama Camp presentation this year. The youth performers were between the ages of 11 and 17, under the direction of Dale Nakagawa. There were twelve original songs in the play with singing and dancing in each one. What exuberance and energy these young people had in all the songs! I was told that the director, Mr. Nakagawa, was also the choreographer for the show and what a job he and the performers did. There was a lot of memorization for even the smallest role in the show, and the performers were all up to the task.

The play was a simple story about property that “Mom” and “Pop” owned at the beach, and they were going to sell it. The Avalon Kids, who loved the beach for its surfing, were set on trying to save the beach to keep it for the surfing. They were opposed by the Cove Kids who were trying to take the beach from them. It all rested on a surfing contest between the champ of the Avalons and the Coves. Just before the contest the Avalon champ, Riptide, hurt his leg, and a girl, Midge, had to take his place.

The story was not all that exciting, but the choreography and energy of these young actors and actresses was infective. The girl in the lead, Midge, was played by a dynamic and exciting Camryn Consolian. She was constantly in motion trying to save the beach, but the most impressive section for me was when she got on that surfboard and showed such a determined look on her face. She was going to win the contest, and there was no question about it. What a performance!

The two male leads, Riptide and Reef played by Kaleb Tompkins and Nick Kenehan, were also up to their tasks. Both kept into character so well that they made us believe they were actually the surfers. Kaleb was the blond, good looking, hero with the shy smile that all the girls loved, and Nick was the dark haired villain who would do anything, including cheat, to win. Nick had a strong speaking and singing voice that carried to the back of the theater. While these two boys were leads, other boys showed that they could carry their parts well also and were not bashful as some boys are at that age. Elliot Hull as Pop, the aged surfer and father of Midge, gave a very believable performance right down to his limping with a cane. Ryan McGraw, Cameron Edenfield, Chris Kenehan, Evan Searls, and C. J. Hanson had speaking parts and did an excellent job entertaining us with their different characterizations.

The girls, in addition to Camryn Consolian, also had great parts. I thoroughly enjoyed Mattie Mitchell with her inability to rhyme her speeches although she tried. Madison Edmonds kept moving throughout the play while listening to music on a small transistor radio or tape. Her engine never stopped, and she certainly was one of the important reasons for the tremendous energy of the group. Another of the girls that I enjoyed was Claire Haller who played Wendy. Claire had stage presence and a smile that drew us into the scene. She seemed to enjoy the music and the dancing, and that made the audience realize that we enjoyed it also. And, also Wipeout had that person on the beach with the metal detector looking for buried treasure. Paige Petrine was great, popping in and out of scenes, until she finally found the gold cup that had been won by Pop in a surfing contest.

As usual, in a play like this, there are many helpers backstage setting the scenery, painting, making costumes organizing, and on and on. Kathy Abramowitz was the producer. Kathy Wendling was assistant producer with Madilyn MacFarland as a student assistant. Madilyn was a drama camp veteran who was tireless in her work with the campers and the production. Every play needs that someone who goes out of her way to help wherever she is needed. I am told that Madilyn was that person. Set construction chiefs were Stewart Lanier and David Westmark.   The very difficult job of working with the young voices belonged to the music director from NAU, Stephanie Whitaker. With so little time for preparation, she had these teens singing with gusto the thirteen original songs.

Dale Nakagawa, the director, was talented in many ways, and we were certainly lucky that he agreed to take charge of the whole program this year. What a wonderful job all of these crew adults did to make a very enjoyable evening. Thank you.

As to the older teens who are moving on from drama camp, we are looking forward to seeing you in the Pinewood Players performances on the main stage in the future.

Review of Hallelujah Girls

Reviewed by Clyde Morrison

In Hallelujah Girls Pinewood Players has shown again that it is among the best community theaters in Arizona. I had read this play and had seen it performed down in Phoenix, but I had never seen it the way Pinewood Players put it on. Wow! The director, Lynn Rouyer, added a few special touches that helped the audience’s enjoyment. When scenes changed and the stage crew came onto change the set, the stage was not dark but strongly lit with even a little impromptu conversation between two of the crew’s members, Pam Uveges and Sunnie Saperstein. This was much more enjoyable for the audience than sitting in the dark and trying to see on stage what the director did not want you to see. Another of the director’s tricks was to have a window a few feet from the door leading onto the set. This permitted the audience to see who was going to come in next and let us anticipate, worry, or look forward to what was going to happen. Pinewood is fortunate to have some of the finest directors in the state and Lynn Rouyer is one of these.

The director had an excellent cast of experienced actors and actresses. Melanie Westmark had the lead as Sugar Lee Thomkins, who was starting a beauty spa out of an old, former church. She certainly showed us again why she was chosen as the outstanding actress in a contest of plays by community theaters in the state. She has continually given us fine performances and this is another excellent job. Other actresses who beautifully aided Sugar Lee in her attempt to open up a spa were Carol Jones as the caustic Mavis Flowers, Nancy Del Duca as Nita whose son was controlling her, and Gina Burton as Carlene Travis whose husbands had died and had left her falsely known as a “black widow.” Each of these women played her part as though she was the character and not an actress playing a role.

One of these Hallelujah girls just has to be singled out. Whenever Lori Prescott, as Crystal Hart, came on stage in one of her many special day costumes, she brought the house down. When she first came on she was dressed as the Statue of Liberty with a torch. Then, as the different holidays went by during the year, she was a witch on Halloween, an elf at Christmas, a geisha girl for Chinese New Year, Cupid for Valentines Day, etc. For many of these she had an advertising song for the spa. These were based on Christmas carols with advertising words being substituted for the original words. I have been told that Lori made he own costumes. What a talent.   She is a very funny girl, and her character really added to the hilarity of the play. It might be noted here that she and Gina Burton are both former reader’s theater cabaret performers. This was Lori’s second time on the main stage and Gina’s first acting on the main stage. Reader’s Theater is really adding strong performers for the main stage. Congratulations, Gina and Lori.

Bill Spain, with his rich baritone speaking voice and his “cute” legs made an ideal foil and love interest to Sugar Lee Thomkins. Last year Bill was excellent in Cactus Flowers as Igor Sullivan . This year he did another outstanding job a Bobby Dwayne Dillahunt. This guy is a very good actor no matter what role he is playing.

Another of my favorite characters was Porter Padgett, played by Ron Young. Porter was a shy mailman who had a lot of trouble professing his love for a girl. However, when he heard Johnny Cash’s rendition of Ring of Fire several times, he got his courage up to profess his love for Carlene Travis. He even asked her to marry him, contingent upon his mother’s approval. Since mom didn’t approve, the engagement was called off. Ron has a background in theater, and it really comes out in his characters.

Darvin Bussey had just a small part as the wishy-washy Billy Bob. At the beginning he was the chauffeur and henchman of the villainess Bunny Sutherland. But as the play progressed he changed sides and followed Bobby Dwayne and Sugar Lee Tompkins. Darwin was not a bad person, he just was not very strong willed.

That leads us to another of my favorite characters, the villainess Bunny Sutherland. Cheryl Parker played this antagonist in a real switch from the parts she usually plays. She usually plays an attractive, but not very bright girl. In this role, Cheryl really stretched to be a scheming, back-biting, vicious antagonist to our sweet and lovable Hallelujah girls who were trying their best to help one another. Bunny was doing everything she could to rain on their parade, or even, destroy them. She was just plain nasty and Cheryl was every bit of that. Well done, Cheryl.

As usual, everyone involved in this production did a top notch job. The set construction crew led by David Westmark and Stewart Lanier came up with a very realistic beauty spa How many hours must have been spent by these two and their crew of Al Bagley, Harold Withers, Jim Schurz, Frank Uveges, Bernie Verhoven, and Melanie Westmark. All of the actors and crews are volunteers so the only pay they get is a thank you from those of us who enjoy good theater. So – Thanks from all of us. Another great evening treat.

Review of Cactus Flower

Reviewed by Clyde Morrison

Cactus Flower is a very witty play with humorous comments throughout. It is about a dentist who successfully avoids going to the altar with his various amours by telling them he is married with three children. This works fine until he goes with an unusual girl who wants to meet his wife and children and then she feels sorry for them

I went to Cactus Flower expecting a frilly play like the movie with Goldie Hawn and Walter Matthau. Well, there were frills. Cheryl Parker played the part that Goldie Hawn had in the movie, and she did a superb job with her hot pink bedroom, her short shorts with unusual stockings, and her kinky personality. But, Cheryl also had her serious side with her concern for the other women that were being snubbed as their boyfriends and husbands were chasing women.

While Cheryl had shown her dramatic abilities several times in plays like Dixie Swim Club, Bill Spain, who played Igor Sullivan, was new to our stage. What an addition! Bill has a very strong speaking voice, and it seemed as if he had been on stage often before instead of it being his first time. His acting was natural, and he did not seem strange to the stage even when wearing just a towel

The comedic roles were handled by Phyllis Schurz as the wealthy Mrs. Durant, who thought that her hair appointment was more important than her dentist appointment;, Lee Henry, who was an aging lecherous romantic looking to score with any skirt: and Carlos Navarette, who as a Latin lover did not see anything wrong with leaving his wife alone at home while dating another woman. These three along with Sunnie Saperstein and Stan Debber filled out a fine cast.

However, what really surprised and pleased me was the acting skill and dramatic abilities of the two main characters played by Bill Gibney as the dentist, Dr. Julian Winston, and his old maid nurse, Stephanie Dickinson, played by Melanie Westmark. Melanie and Bill gave two of the best performances I have seen on the Pinewood stage or for that matter on any stage. They really got into it in their scenes together. Facial and body expressions along with their strong verbal skills just glued my attention to the stage like few other performances have. To me, this was a breakout for both actors. They had both been in several plays here but they have usually played lighter roles. Their roles in this production were strong. They both had to go from the kind and gentle to the strong and forceful. Each had a variety of moods to go through, and each did not leave anything on the table. Melanie’s scene with Cheryl Parker in the record shop was a classic which produced strong emotions as she was trying to help her boss out with his lies but also could not hurt the feelings of his mistress. Then her final scene with Bill Gibney reminded me of the clash between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff? There was a real buildup of tension in that scene and then at last came the final resolution as they realized they were meant for each other.

Bill Gibney throughout the play had to change from the fun-loving and inconsiderate man to the man who did not want to hurt other’s feelings, Again, his last scene with Melanie showcased his fine acting ability.

If there was a fault with this play, it was the length and the number of scene changes. Three hours and fifteen minutes and fourteen scene changes keeps you sitting for a long time. The director, Don Miller, recognized this and suggested that we enjoy the ballet of the stage crew as they moved things around in the nearly dark stage. While this must have bothered some, others followed the director’s suggestion before the play started that we enjoy the ballet of the stage crew and their changes. In fact, there was often applause for the crew and at the end of some of the performances the crew got a standing ovation. There were at least ten on the crew that I counted and probably more.

Don Miller took on a horrendous task for his directing of the Pinewood Players, but I, for one, was happy I got a chance to see such a well-done job. Kudos Mr. Miller!

Review of Rock Around The Block

Reviewed by Clyde Morrison

Presented by the Tween Drama Kamp

What a delight! This was a play with 1950’s music sung and danced and the culture of the 50’s and 60’s explored . It gave us oldsters in Munds Park a chance to reminisce and enjoy. I know it took me back to that Mary Coyle ice cream shop (that’s before she moved to Phoenix) in Akron, Ohio. That was our place for getting together and having fun after a play or concert. The white and pink painted walls, and the tables, chairs, and table cloths that were borrowed from the Sugar Bowl, made it seem we were there. This was a perfect play to be put on in front of so many of us Senior Citizens. Thanks, director Matt Dearing. That was one of the best ten bucks I have ever spent.

The story was about a nice girl named Gracie, played by Madison Edmonds, and her friends who wanted to have a good dance for their school. Gracie and her sister, Jeanie, played by Camryn Consolian went to see the rock star Ziggie Springer who just happened to be Gracie’s second cousin (or something like that) to invite him to their dance. If he would come, that would insure a successful dance.

Now my tough job as the critic is to pick out the ones whose characters really stood out. It was tough because everyone did such a good job. I thoroughly enjoyed Sam Albino (as Ziggy Springer) with his Elvis treatment of “ Baby, Baby, Baby.” I think he had some moves while he was singing of which even Elvis would have been jealous. Sam had an excellent voice, but those moves really took us back to Elvis. The idea the director had of putting all those screaming girls who wanted just to touch Ziggy or get near him really enhanced the scene. Madison Edmonds as Gracie also had the fantastic moves of a teenage girl. When she was shy and giggly, or when she was let down by her cousin, her facial as well as body emotions let us realize again how good and how bad things could get to a teenager. Others that really stood out for me were the soda jerk, Nick Kenehan with his imitation of Ziggy imitating Elvis; Alexa Herriman as the owner or at least manager of the soda parlour who wanted to be “in” with the kids, but also wanted to keep order in her store (what outstanding facial expressions she had); Brittany Baxley who as Muffin was the leader of a group of girls who were the stuck up rich girls that opposed Gracie’s group of “good” girls. Brittany really projected her voice and could be easily heard and followed by the audience.

And then there were the tough biker group, led by Sinbad Gallucci, played by Kevin Duffy. Kevin has a fine speaking and singing voice and also did some smooth dancing. I loved the part of one of his biker girls played by Claire Haller. She was the girl who always had a sucker in her mouth and was not always paying close attention to what Sinbad was saying and doing. Every once in a while she had to be brought back to reality. Her character was the comedy highlight of the whole play.

There were many, many highlights in this play that showed a lot of fine direction and hard work from the performers. Among them: that strong opening that Jughead James (Eliot Hull) made on his first appearance, the strong singing and dancing by the entire group, those groovy 50’s jitterbug steps by everyone, and on and on.

My wife and I, who helped a little with the jitterbug dances, had the pleasure of watching Director Matt Dearing interact with the teens – all of whom reacted in such a joyous manner Pinewood Players is so lucky and proud to have him along with Penny Peterson and Susan Liberty and many other adults to work with these kids to give them one of the most interesting and memorable times of their lives. Kudos to all. What’s up next, Matt?

The Gazebo

A Review by A. Nom DePlume (Actually a collaboration of 3 reviewers)

The Gazebo is a comedy about a TV mystery writer, Elliott Nash, who dreams up near perfect crimes each week for a TV show.  In an iconictwist, he is blackmailed and faced with the prospect of committing a real perfect murder to protect his wife’s reputation.  Despite his best efforts and a “To Do” list, things don’t go perfectly.  Even his shovel is taken away and he has to find a solution quickly.  He plants the body under a concrete foundation being poured for a gazebo that  his wife recently purchased at auction.  In the meantime, the blackmailer he thought he had killed is found shot dead in his own apartment along with a list of people he has been blackmailing.  So,  who did he shoot?  Soon, the Nash residence is crawling with law enforcement officials and some nefarious characters.  This all makes for a hilarious comedy which takes an interesting twist at the end.

What a set.  Regular patrons know Frank and Tricia Hess are masters at sets, and they continue to dazzle us.  I heard multiple comments that it looked good enough to move in to.  Not an easy task to generate that kind of comment, given the limited space on the stage, but they did it.

The cast makes one think of a retreat for married couples as it has multiple real life couples on stage or back stage.  They must have had many interesting and memorable rehearsals!

Dave Elam is new to our stage, but didn’t look like it.  His stage presence was excellent.  He played Potts, the cop, like a veteran which was critical to the success of the surprise ending.  And, he  also played a dead man – twice.  Dave will be back, count on it.

Dave’s wife, Laura, was a hoot (as usual), this time as Matilda the maid.  She grabbed the stage every time she came on to it.  Her first utterance, in the opening scene, is a believable scream that tells the audience to wake up, here comes another excellent Pinewood Players performance.

Roger Saulnier (his wife, Pat, toiled back stage along with Susan Liberty and others – can’t wait to see both of them on stage again!) broke the mold of previous plays in which he played a cop.  This time he went to the dark side and perfectly played a mobster (The Dook, complete with neckwear and walking stick) who waxed eloquently, even while ordering his henchman, Louie the Louse – played by Ron Petersen, to beat the truth out of Elliott.  Ron looked and acted like a  nefarious, dangerous guy – watch out for him!  His character is totally unlike the real Ron, so it clearly was a good acting job.

Ron Young as Mr. Thorpe, the contractor installing the gazebo, brought his expected excellent acting to his role.  His affable, almost giggly character seemed to come naturally to Ron.  I think I’ll call Mr. Thorpe the next time I need something built.  I can watch him work and then have a drink and a laugh with him.

Only newcomers to the Playhouse don’t know Lee Henry and the many roles he has portrayed over his 21 consecutive seasons on stage for Pinewood Players.  This time, Lee plays Detective Jenkins, the homicide detective who seems to know exactly what happened and why. Or, does he?  Lee always brings energy and life to his characters and this performance, though brief, was no exception.  He keeps you believing Elliott is going to end up behind bars.

Linda Morrison has the ability to grab whatever role she has and play it to the hilt, and she has done it again.  As Mrs. Chandler, the real estate broker only interested in making a sale, she conspires with Elliott to push Mrs. Nash into selling the Nash residence.  She plays it so well that it makes you think about calling her if you decide to sell your house (but not if you are a buyer).

Clyde Morrison plays Harlow Edison, an Assistant District Attorney who is also a neighbor and friend of Elliott and Nell Nash and is a regular and comfortable guest in their home.  After Matilda’s scream, Elliott implores Harlow to smile, to show her that he is ok.  And, Clyde puts out that beautiful smile of his that only he can do.  It makes me, and Matilda, realize that he hasn’t been shot after all. Clyde’s performance was spot on and, at times, reminiscent of Peter Falk in the “Columbo” TV series.

In her stage debut, Judy Harris plays Nell Nash, Elliott’s loving wife.  Professionally, Nell is an actress in a soap opera.  Judy makes you believe that she really is just that – a loving wife and a  professional actress.  She seems a natural – that this is her home and husband, which she leaves only to go to the studio.  She and Tom played off each other naturally, making the husband/wife roles very believable.  Even though they are husband/wife, it is no easy task to pretend to be a different couple.  Natural – remember that word when thinking about Judy.  She will be back on stage again (I hope), and that word will come up again.

Tom Harris, also in his debut on the main stage, grabbed his first major role and conquered it.  The role of Elliott Nash is a difficult one – one involving many lines to memorize, many physical movements also requiring memorization, but also many expressions that are critical to the audience understanding how he is reacting to what is happening around him.  Tom nails it.  He carries out all the requirements of his role and makes the audience understand, really understand, what just happened and how Elliott feels about it.

The Gazebo is another fine performance by Pinewood Players!  The setting, the actors, the sound, the lighting, the behind the scenes efforts – all exemplify what patrons have come to expect from Pinewood Players.