The Gazebo (2014)

The Gazebo

Written by: Alex Coppel

Directed by:  Frank Hess

The Gazebo” is a comedy about a TV mystery writer who dreams up near perfect crimes each week for his TV show.  In an iconic twist, he is blackmailed and faced with the prospect of committing a real perfect murder to protect his wife’s reputation, but suffice it to say that his attempt at the real thing is less perfect than those he writes for TV.

He decides to plant the body of the blackmailer he believes he has killed in a fresh concrete foundation just poured for a gazebo that his wife recently purchased at auction.  In the meantime, the blackmailer he believes he has killed is found shot dead in his own apartment along with a list of people he had been blackmailing, including the writer.  Soon the writer’s house is crawling with detectives, one of which is his best friend, the assistant D.A.  This all makes for a hilarious comedy which takes an interesting twist at the end.

Review of 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.

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