Front Row Center – November 2017

Front Row Center

By Michael Warren

By David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by Collette Clavadetscher


front row

Ripcord was commissioned by the Manhattan Theater Club, as an off-Broadway production designed to entertain an older subscription audience, and David Lindsay-Abaire delivered an “Odd Couple” comedy set in a retirement home. We can hear the comedic gears clanking as two old ladies play thoroughly nasty tricks on each other, and it takes skillful acting and direction to make this play work.

Fortunately Collette Clavadetscher, in her directorial debut at LLT, was able to do just that. The pace was excellent, and the two main characters were perfectly cast – Georgette Richmond as “Abby” and Barbara Pruitt as “Marilyn.” Georgette is a mainstay of the Lakeside Little Theatre and has served on the Board as Past President longer than anyone alive can remember. As Abby, she is on stage for the entire play, and delivers her lines with great timing. Bitter and acerbic, who would want to share a room with her?

Apparently, Marilyn enjoys the challenge as Abby tries to make her quit. While Barbara Pruitt has appeared many times at Naked Stage, this was her first appearance at LLT, and she was totally believable as the relentlessly cheerful Marilyn. It’s a big part and she gives an emotionally nuanced performance. There’s a danger that the audience will dislike both of these women, but this doesn’t happen and we laugh at their wacky behavior.

Zane Pumiglia is a reliable actor, and he comes across well as the professional and at times exasperated male nurse “Scotty.” He’s the one who brings around the pills, and tries to overlook the semi-criminal behavior of these crazy ladies. Linda Freeman made her LLT debut as Marilyn’s bossy daughter “Colleen,” and Al Kirkland was her chicken-head husband “Derek.” I really appreciated Damyn Young’s cameo appearance in Act Two as Abby’s prodigal son. Damyn is a good actor, and I well remember his excellent performance as a bewildered young man in Caught in the Net. It’s good to see him again on the LLT stage.  Finally, Johan Dirkes was a clown in the haunted house scene, and later appeared as the scary sky-diving instructor.

This play tries almost too hard to be “funny” and the ending is totally implausible, but Collette and her team succeeded in making it an enjoyable evening’s entertainment. The special effects were remarkable – special congratulations to James Jack for the sky-diving sequence. Set design was effective, thanks to first-timer Sheron Brackenbury. Karen Lee was an efficient Stage Manager, and Sharon Lowry was her Assistant. Margo Eberly was the Producer – welcome back to the team, Margo!

Overall, it was a good performance of a forced piece of writing by Lindsay-Abaire. I thank Collette and all the cast and backstage team. Next up is Time Stands Still, a drama by Donald Margulies which opens on November 3rd

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