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Moon Over Buffalo

a Comedy
by Ken Ludwig

COMPANY : Act 3 Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Act 3 Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 4881

SHOWING : April 15, 2016 - April 30, 2016



This madcap comedy centers on George and Charlotte Hay, fading stars of the 1950’s. At the moment, they’re playing "Private Lives" and "Cyrano De Bergerac" in rep in Buffalo, New York, with five actors. On the brink of a disastrous split-up caused by George’s dalliance with a young ingénue, they receive word that they might just have one last shot at stardom: Frank Capra is coming to town to see their matinee and if he likes what he sees, he might cast them in his movie remake of "The Scarlet Pimpernel." Unfortunately for George and Charlotte, everything that could go wrong does go wrong, abetted by a visit from their daughter’s clueless fiancé and hilarious uncertainty about which play they’re actually performing, caused by Charlotte’s deaf old stage-manager mother who hates every bone in George’s body.

Director Patrick Hill
Paul Jason Burkey
Howard Stephen DeVillers
Richard Rob Glidden
Charlotte Hay Alyssa Jackson
Eileen Jessie Kuipers
George Hay Snapper Morgan
Rosalind Katie O'Neill
Ethel Mary Sittler
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Half Buffalo Moon
by playgoer
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Ken Ludwig’s script for "Moon Over Buffalo" is filled with non-stop slamming doors and laugh-out-loud moments. At ACT3, Patrick Hill has directed the show to bring out all its comedy, with lots of little unexpected comic touches that add to the comedy. This is a comedy that’s impossible not to enjoy.

Of course, comedy comes across best when all performances mesh. Here, not everyone seems to be on board with the broad, physical brand of comedy Mr. Hill intends. Stephen DeVillers (Howard), Jason Burkey (Paul), and Jessie Kuipers (Eileen) nail it, setting the tone for the show. Mary Sittler (Ethel) seems to have been directed to perform a number of comic bits, but they don’t seem to come naturally to her, reducing the comic potential. More straightforward performances come from Alyssa Jackson (Charlotte Hay), Rob Glidden (Richard), and Katie O’Neill (Rosalind), and the contrast to the more over-the-top characters works well, particularly since these actors seem to have pretty good comic timing and a nice feel for the script.

The lead role is played by Snapper Morgan as George Hay, a hack actor with movie ambitions. Mr. Morgan plays the entire show at pretty much the same level throughout (aside from getting drunk), with no distinction between George Hay the person and George Hay the actor. His rather slovenly physical presence and lack of (over)dramatic fire when he is "on" make his movie ambitions ring false. That leaves a bit of a hole at the center of the show.

William Joel Coady’s set design contains all the requisite doors for the main green room set, making full use of the lower level of the set. An elegant "Private Lives" set appears stage right atop a platform. Both those sets work fine. The initial scene, for "Cyrano de Bergerac," is played in front of the stage proper, with David Reingold’s lighting and some stage fog setting the scene. This makes the double-casting of actors unfortunately very evident to the audience. The end of act II, scene 2 is also played largely in front of the stage, and it doesn’t work particularly well in terms of what has supposedly occurred.

The furniture on the set is just a fainting couch stage right and a wingback chair stage left, and they work just fine. The stated year in the published script is 1953, yet a wall displays sheet music from "The Music Man," which opened in 1957. A dummy poster from the fictional movie "Apache Woman" is not displayed in a prominent position. Telephone rings, supplied by Zip Rampy’s sound design, seemed to change in volume during the performance I attended, although some of the early ones may have been nearly covered by raucous audience laughter.

Nikki Thomas’ costume design provides period clothing and stage costumes, with both looking good. The only costume deficiency, if you can call it that, is not much of a ripping sound when a pair of pants are repeatedly torn during the show. Chelsea Steverson’s fight choreography, while not complex, gets the point across, and the movements make the "Cyrano" costumes look great.

ACT3’s production of "Moon Over Buffalo" is hardly definitive, but it delivers on the promise of the farcical script. There are priceless moments from Jessie Kuypers and Stephen DeVillers, garnering them exit applause individually and when together, and a delightful performance from Jason Burkey. If the other cast members can sharpen their performances to approach the finely honed level of those three, this show (already a hit, it seems) will turn out to be a gut-buster as well as a blockbuster. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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