Front Row Center – May 2012

Front Row Center

By Michael Warren

Sex Please, We’re Sixty
By Michael & Susan Parker
Directed by Pat Carroll

As the title suggests, this play is all about sex, menopause and little blue pills. It’s a farcical comedy set in the Rose Cottage B&B, somewhere in New England – not really a traditional farce, because a true farce would contain more misunderstandings, mistaken identities and confusion. Here there’s not much confusion, “Bud The Stud” wants sex, the ladies want romance, and most of the cast is over 60. Surely the setting must be a small town in Mexico!

As Larry King was unable to direct the play, Pat Carroll – who was recently re-elected as President of LLT for a fifth consecutive 2-year term – took on the job of Director, and was fortunate to find a talented and experienced cast. Ray Himmelman plays “Bud (The Stud) Davis” with a permanent lecherous leer and some impressive acrobatics when Bud develops a back problem. I was concerned that Ray might really injure himself – however, all is well and he staggers back on stage with a fresh supply of little blue pills.

Roseann Wilshere is excellent as the prudish and time-obsessed “Mrs Buttercup Stancliffe” who tries without success to prevent Bud from turning her B&B into his personal brothel. On the other hand she may reckon that Bud’s philandering is good for business. She herself indulges in amorous fantasies by reading steamy novels of the Harlequin genre, while at the same time fending off the clumsy advances of “Henry Mitchell” the local chemist. Roseann manages to make Mrs Stancliffe believable, and even sympathetic – a great piece of character acting.

Zane Pumiglia plays the chemist with innocent enthusiasm. Every day for 20 years he brings flowers for Buttercup and proposes marriage, and every day she says she needs more time. Poor Henry! But interestingly on a recent trip to a foreign land he has come across a sort of squash or pepper that has the effect of increasing the libido of menopausal women. And by crushing this vegetable he has created a little blue pill that he needs to test on a human guinea-pig. His friend “Hillary Hudson” – charmingly played by Betty Lloyd Robinson – agrees to help him out.

Meanwhile, two other single women check into the hostelry and become targets of Bud’s lecherous advances. Georgette Richmond is rather sweet as “Victoria Ambrose” who writes the sort of steamy novels that Buttercup enjoys, but whose personal love life is lacking. Her passion is confined to her typewriter. And Candace Luciano is slinky and sexy as a southern belle “Charmaine Beauregard” who needs no help in the romance department. Candace delivers some delightful metaphors in true southern style – “He’s as busy as a one-legged man at a kick-butt competition”!

Now here comes the big joke! The ladies switch Bud’s Viagra pills for Henry’s new blue pills, and the effect is alarming. The men develop menopausal symptoms – they cry, they have hot flashes, they feel bloated and they are moody and difficult. It’s hard to believe that an entire play can be built around this one comic idea – in fact it really doesn’t work. It’s a one-minute joke expanded to a lengthy 120 minutes. Pat Carroll and a very good cast do their best with this puerile material – all I can say is that the actors deserve a better play. A cheerful set was well designed by Roberta Hilleman, Sally Jo Bartlett was Assistant Director, Margo Eberly was Stage Manager and Peter Luciano was Assistant Stage Manager. Thanks to all for a job well done.

So Season 47 is over, and I look forward to some better plays in Season 48. How the Other Half Loves was excellent in January, and the musical medley A Taste of Broadway in March was very enjoyable. And, as always, the acting and directing and backstage work was of a high professional standard. Tomorrow is another day!

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