“THE SCHOOL FOR LIES” (University of Rhode Island’s winter show)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

University of Rhode Island’s winter show is “The School for Lies” by David Ives which is a comic adaptation of “The Misanthrope” by Moliere. This show is set in the 1660’s and tells the comic tale of Frank, who shares with Moliere’s Alceste, a venomous hatred of the hypocrisy that surrounds him. Like his predecessor, Frank gets into trouble by insulting the work of a dreadful poet, Oronte and falls in love with Celimene, a witty widow. In this madcap version, the brightest, wittiest salon in Paris is that of Celimene, a beautiful young widow so known for her satiric tongue that she is being sued for it.

 

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“A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” (Dean College School for the Arts)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Dean College’s School for the Arts winter show of the year is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, a romantic comedy by William Shakespeare. It was suggested by “A Knight’s Tale” from Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” and was written between 1594 and 1596. It portrays the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of amateur performers. Moonlight, magic and midsummer madness infect the lovers, tradesmen and fairies in this tale.

 

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“ROMANTIC COMEDY” (Newport Playhouse)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Newport Playhouse’s first show of their 34th season is “Romantic Comedy” by Bernard Slade. The show is centered on Jason Carmichael, an arrogant, self centered and sharp tongued successful co-author of romantic comedies. He is faced with two momentous events: he supposed to marry a society belle and his collaborator is retiring. Enter mousey Phoebe Craddock who quickly becomes his new collaborator. Fame and success flourish for ten years and then Jason goes into a tailspin when his world is changed. Phoebe gets married and moves to Paris with her new journalist husband. But will Phoebe return to New York to get back together with Jason? And if so will it be happily ever after. Director Anne Mulhall casts these six roles wonderfully and elicits strong performances from her hard working performers.

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“MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON’S” (2nd Story Theatre, Warren, RI)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The latest show at 2nd Story Theatre is “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” by Sam Bobrick and Ron Clark. The show is a light fast pace suspense comedy about a love-triangle between a husband, Paul Miller, his wife, Arlene and their dentist, Mitchell Lovell, at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Inn. It is a three scene play which takes place at Christmas, July 4th and New Year’s Eve. Its many twists and turns during this mixed up mayhem keeps the audience in stitches all night long. Director Ed Shea keeps the show moving at a rapid fire pace and gives his comic performers a lot of sight gags and shtick to do, giving it the necessary ingredients for the hilarious night of comedy that occurs. The authentic set and lighting is by Max Ponticelli and the gorgeous 1978 costumes are by Ron Cesario.

Michael McAdam plays Paul, the car salesman that Arlene wants to divorce one minute then loves the next. He can’t believe what is happening and allows himself to be tied up in a chair. Then in another scene, he runs around outside on the ledge. Michael is hilarious when he climbs back into the room as if he is still outside on the ledge. Another comic moment is when he realizes he has bird poo on his forehead. Michael also brings KFC chicken for Arlene in this scene while hiding in a closet, waving a gun in the air and spouting lessons he learned in self actualization class. There is a surprise heart attack scare that doesn’t end the way you expect which wins many laughs. He steals many a scene with his wacky antics.

Lara Hakeem plays Arlene, who has her car salesman husband and dentist boyfriend chasing after her throughout the show. Arlene is a dim bulb who can’t chose who she wants to be with which leads her to thoughts of murder. Some of her funniest moments include dressing in a blonde wig while pretending to be a bimbo, pretending to make love on the bed, crawling under the bed and starting to make love with one of her lovers and kissing her lover behind her husband’s back. Lara delivers the goods as this kooky off balance woman and obtains many laughs along the way.

Wayne Kneeland plays the skirt chasing dentist, Mitchell. He is very funny while seducing Arlene and plotting against Paul while saying love conquers everything. Another comic bit is when he spills champagne on Paul’s crotch. Mitchell ties up Paul with Paul’s tie and his tie, makes a noose for the gallows and runs around on the ledge in shorts. He also gets a dose of Novocain in the butt which makes him limp around the room and also is a hoot when he does some disco moves. Another comic gem is when he puts on lipstick to kiss a scarf. So for a funny farce to brighten up these cold winter days, be sure to catch “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” at 2nd Story Theatre. I have fond memories of this show, having directed it in 1983 and 2014. It will help brighten up your mood with all the political shenanigans going on, too.

MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON’S (10 February to 12 March)

2nd Story Theatre, 28 Market St, Warren, RI

1(401)847-4200 or www.2ndstorytheatre.com

 

“DINNER WITH FRIENDS” (Rhode Island College)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Rhode Island College’s third show of the year is Donald Margulies’ 2000 Pulitzer winning play, “Dinner with Friends.” It opened Off Broadway in New York in 1999 playing 654 performances, having played in California and Paris before that. This comedy/drama, which is set in Connecticut, is an examination of the nature of friendship through the prism of two couples and the effect of one couple’s break up on themselves and their long time relationships.

 

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