‘Fish Food’ Delivers A Hilarious Take On the Luxury Hotel Biz

 

By Mike Hoban

 

‘Fish Food’ – Written and Directed by Michael O’ Halloran; Presented by Avenue Stage, and performed by Geoffrey Pingree, Desmond O’Halloran, Eunice Simmons, Jennifer Jones, Molly O’Halloran, and Miss Mary Mac. At the Boston Playwrights Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, July 20-23.

 

 Fish Food, a coming of age tale which premiered at the Dot 2 Dot Café in Dorchester before the company heads to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, is a charming little comedy loosely based on playwright Michael O’Halloran’s experiences as a young adult in the hotel industry. Set around 1990, the play gives us O’Halloran’s fictional stand-in, Joe Bacon (portrayed by O’Halloran’s lookalike son Desmond in an appealingly innocent turn), who just turned 21 and is seeking a job at a swank downtown hotel (the ostentatiously named Grand Plaza Court). Owned by shady financier Avery Grand, whose modus operandi bears a striking resemblance to that of the current POTUS (right down to his book, “The Deal is Everything”), the play sends up the boozy, amoral world of luxury hospitality.

 

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In Gloucester Stage’s “The Effect”, Love is the Drug

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘The Effect’ – Written by Lucy Prebble; Directed by Sam Weisman; Set & Projection Design by J. Michael Griggs; Costume Design by Miranda Kau Giurleo; Lighting Design by Russ Swift; Sound Design by David Remedios; Composer, Claudio Ragazzi; Choreography by Maurice Emmanuel Parent. Presented by the Gloucester Stage Company through July 8

 

Oh Oh, catch that buzz
Love is the drug I’m thinking of
Oh Oh, can’t you see
Love is the drug for me

“Love is the Drug” – 1975 single by Roxy Music

 

Is true love something that can be prescribed?

 

The Effect, now making its New England premiere at Gloucester Stage, asks that question, as Big Pharma guy Dr. Toby Sealey of Rauschen Pharmaceuticals hopes to create “a Viagra for the heart” as clinical trials for the experimental antidepressant with the unsexy name of RLU37 get underway. But as we soon find out, results are not always predictable whenever there’s a human element in the experiment, even in a sterile clinical setting.

 

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“The Music Man” at Theatre by the Sea

 

By Richard Pacheco

 

“The Music Man” is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey and is currently playing at Theatre by the Sea in a spirited, energetic and fun production. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys’ band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to the naive Iowa townsfolk, promising to train the members of the new band. Harold is no musician, however, and plans to skip town without giving any music lessons. Prim librarian and piano teacher Marian sees through him, but when Harold helps her younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, Marian begins to fall in love. Harold risks being caught to win her.

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“BAGGAGE” (Newport Playhouse,)

“BAGGAGE”
Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at the Newport Playhouse is the romantic comedy “Baggage” by Sam Bobrick. Two difficult and single people, Bradley and Phyllis, both trying to heal from their respective disappointing relationships, get their luggage mixed up at the airport. After a very disagreeable first encounter, the two decide to help each other get over their heartaches by forcing a friendship that eventually leads to the two discovering that while they may be too difficult for everyone else in the world, but they are perfect for each other. Throw in an analyst who speaks directly to the audience as well as to Bradley and Phyllis and a kooky female friend of Phyllis and you have the ingredients for this very funny comedy.

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ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS (Contemporary Theater Company, Wakefield, RI)

“ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Contemporary Theater’s second comedy of their summer season is “One Man, Two Guvnors” by Richard Bean, an English adaptation of “Servant of Two Masters”, a 1743 Commedia dell’arte style comedy play by the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni. The play changes the Italian locale to 1963 Brighton. Francis finds himself picking up a second job to just scrape together enough money to buy himself a pint. But he soon finds out that keeping his two bosses, rivals in the mob scene from finding out about each other is more trouble than he bargained for.

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“CALENDAR GIRLS” Renaissance City Theatre Inc, (Westerly, RI)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Renaissance City Theatre Inc., the producing entity of the Granite Theatre’s fourth show of their 17th season is Tim Firth’s delightful comedy “Calendar Girls” which is the true and “revealing story” of a women’s group in England who decided to drop everything and raise money for a new settee for the hospital waiting room in honor of one’s husband who died of leukemia. It is based on Firth’s “Calendar Girls” movie from 2003.The news of the “alternative calendar” charitable venture spread like wildfire and ultimately raised over a million dollars.

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Delicious Storytelling Dished Up in “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti”

 

By Michele Markarian

 

“I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti.” Adapted by Jacques LaMarre from the memoir by Giulia Melucci. Directed by Ilyse Robbins . Presented by Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main Street, Stoneham, through June 25.

 

“I can count on my breasts the number of times I’ve missed a meal”, Giulia (Kerri Jill Garbis) tells us. For Giulia, food is love, as she demonstrates by actually cooking dinner for eight guests onstage while telling us unfortunate stories from her love life.  If you have an interest in food and a colorful romantic past, this is the show for you.

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WEST SIDE STORY (Ivoryton Playhouse, CT)

“WEST SIDE STORY”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Ivoryton Playhouse’s summer musical is “West Side Story”, the classic 1957 musical hit. Based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, the story is as fresh and new to contemporary audiences as it was back in 1591 for the original play as it was in the 1950’s for the musical version. Hatred and violence don’t solve problems, they create new ones. Love and understanding of each other are the solutions to these problems not only in these shows but in real life. The well known story of Tony and Maria takes place in New York City. The outside forces of friends, enemies, gang members and adults keep them from fulfilling their dreams of everlasting happiness due to hatred and bigotry. This talented cast under the direction of Todd Underwood, delivers the goods in a powerful and poignant presentation with outstanding acting, singing and dancing which propels the audience to their feet at curtain call. Who could ask for anything more in this gut wrenching magnificent production at this historic theatre.

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“SOCIAL SECURITY” (Little Theatre of Fall River)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Little Theatre of Fall River’s Fire Barn show is the hilarious comedy “Social Security” by Andrew Bergman. The domestic tranquility of David and Barbara Kahn, a couple of married art dealers is shattered by Barbara’s house wife sister, Trudy and her uptight CPA husband, Martin. They arrive on the scene to leave their cantankerous mother, Sophie with them so they can save their daughter from living a sexually deviant life style. The comic sparks really fly when the mother hits it off with an elderly French artist friend of the couple. Director Betty Texieira casts these roles splendidly and elicits strong performances from her six member cast.

Betty blocks the show beautifully and elicits topnotch performances from her six cast members. Mark Lima commands the stage as David. He delivers his punch lines splendidly. Mark also has marvelous facial expressions and terrific interactions with his cast mates. Kristina Dahlene plays the long suffering wife who must now deal with her difficult mother living with them.  Her slow burns and agitation scenes with the mother are wonderful to behold. Mark and Kristina’s funniest moment occurs with the dance behind the sofa, which leads to a sexual encounter at 1:30 in the afternoon. There is much laughter at the antics in this scene. Her interactions with her sister and mother are priceless. Excellent work from these two strong leads.

The obnoxious overbearing couple of Martin and Trudy is well played by Ken Raposa and Susan Wing Markson.  Susan has many comic moments along the way especially in the argument scene with Martin and her crying she is the only one not having sex. Susan’s facial expressions are topnotch, too. Ken plays the hen pecked husband to the tee. Martin gives into every one of her whims but later on turns the tables on her in the second act. His funniest line is the menagerie line when he actually means menage a trois. His spritzing and head lines are also hilarious.

Dee Kullander is the biggest scene stealer in the show as the cranky, Sophie. However she transforms due to meeting the man of her dreams. Dee first enters with a walker and scares the crap out of  David and Barbara. Her one liners and constant complaining are comic moments to enjoy and savor. Also Dee’s underwear scene is hilarious and Sophie finally spills the beans about what happened to her errant granddaughter. Ron Caisse plays elderly art dealer, Maurice Koenig. He gets many laughs when he gets thrown into a closet. Ron charms not only Sophie but the whole audience in this debonair role. His French accent is splendid. So for a laugh fest, be sure to catch “Social Security” at Little Theatre of Fall River. I have many pleasant memories of directing this show in the past.

SOCIAL SECURITY (20 to 30 July)

Little Theatre of Fall River, Fire Barn, 340 Prospect St, Fall River, MA

1(508)675-1852 or www.littletheatre.net

 

 

“YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU” (Community Players, Pawtucket, RI)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The final show of Community Players 96th season is “You Can’t Take It With You”, a 1937 Pulitzer prize winning comedy by Moss Hart and George F. Kaufman. Meet the Sycamore family, a collection of lovable eccentric incompetents who keep a printing press in the parlor, manufacture fireworks in the basement, are friends with an Ex-Grand Duchess, and includes a grandfather who doesn’t believe in paying taxes. When daughter, Alice falls in love with straight laced Tony Kirby and invites his conservative, high society parents to dinner, she orders her family to ”ordinary up”, which means act like normal people. As with most things in this wacky family, things don’t go exactly as planned. The important message is to live in the here and now, live life to the fullest and do whatever makes you happy. Director Patricia Hawkridge casts this huge show wonderfully. It is a positive and light hearted show that is definitely needed in these trying times we are living through now.

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