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Everybody Loves Opal
a Comedy
by John Patrick

COMPANY : Cherokee Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Canton Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4723

SHOWING : May 08, 2015 - May 17, 2015



Opal Kronkie, a middle-aged recluse, lives in a tumbledown mansion at the edge of the municipal dump. The general disarray of her establishment is aggravated by the fact that Opal collects things — anything that can be toted home in her little red wagon. Opal is also an optimist, for no matter how mean her lot — or her “friends” — Opal responds with unfailing kindness and an abiding faith in the goodness of human nature. Into her rather strange world come Gloria, Bradford and Solomon, three purveyors of bogus perfume on the lam from the authorities. Opal’s menage is the perfect hideout — and Opal, herself, might be the remedy for their shattered finances. They decide that what she needs is plenty of insurance, a rapid demise, and three beneficiaries named Gloria, Bradford and Solomon. Attempted murder wouldn’t seem to be funny, but in Mr. Patrick’s magic hands it is uproarious. The unsavory trio concoct an elaborate scheme to drop the ceiling on Opal’s unsuspecting head — but she is in the cellar at the time; they try to drug her and set the house on fire — but Opal’s state trooper friend arrives at the wrong (or right) moment; a plan for a “hit and run” accident backfires. Through it all, Opal radiates kindness, affection and, strangely enough, gratitude. But the real clincher comes at the end. It seems that there was plenty of money around all the time; bags, barrels, and mooseheads full of it, in fact, and any friend of Opal’s is welcome to as much as he wants. All they had to do was ask.

Director Christi Whitney
Bradford R.J. Allen
Gloria Lory Cox
Doctor Michael Cuomo
Opal Pam Duncan
Solomon Paul Komorner
Officer Jankie Cody Vaughn
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Or Maybe Some Only Like Opal
by playgoer
Sunday, May 17, 2015
"Everybody Loves Opal" bears a strong resemblance to "The Curious Savage," by the same playwright -- both concern an eccentric older woman whose kindness wins over the odd collection of characters surrounding her. "Everybody Loves Opal" received a brief Broadway run in 1961, and Cherokee Theatre Company now brings it to Canton.

The production requires a "trick" set with a ramp, columns, and an eclectic variety of items that might have been collected by a bag lady. Set designer Ed Palombo and props/costume designer Annette Nellums have provided the necessary elements, albeit on a fairly small scale. The set contains a front door stage right, an alcove stage left, and a short set of stairs leading up to a landing up center. The items and costumes on display give a cluttered, homey feel without being claustrophobic.

Greg Hogue’s sound design introduces each scene with light, sprightly music that sets the tone of the piece. While the "message" of the play is heartfelt, and while nefarious plots are schemed, the overall sentiment of the play is optimistic kindness, nicely reflected in the music choices. Lighting design by Melinda O’Neill and Emily Mimbs gives a sunny feel too, although the action takes place in a single room of a crowded, ramshackle mansion that would probably be dim and foreboding in real life.

Acting performances also combine lightness with some underlying darkness. RJ Allen (Bradford) embodies the darkness most notably, combining his leading man looks with internal angst and self-loathing larceny. Since Bradford is the last grifter won over by Opal, that’s appropriate. More comedy is seen in the performance of Lory Cox (Gloria), who is perhaps older and less scatterbrained than the bimbo written in the script, but entertaining to watch nevertheless. Paul Komorner (Solomon) adds comic bits at various points, and Michael Cuomo fits the role of a doctor like a glove. Cody Vaughn (Officer Jankie) has only a couple of scenes, but engages with his likeable authority. The standout, appropriately enough, is Pam Duncan as Opal. Ms. Duncan maintains a cheery, optimistic attitude in the face of every setback, relating anecdotes with a sweet lightness, even when adding in a side note of the terrible tragedies that have befallen the subject of an anecdote. Ms. Duncan makes us care about Opal Kronkie.

There were significant glitches in the performance I saw -- Mr. Komorner mangling his first two speeches; an uncooperative door and unexpectedly detaching door trim -- but the cast carried on with barely a missed beat. This production of "Everybody Loves Opal" may not flow with undiminishing energy, but director Christi Whitney has staged a fully competent and adequately entertaining community theatre production. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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