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.