Jolly Time, Merry Wives
Pac Rep delivers delightful production of Shakespearean confection.
Thursday, September 23, 1999
In a nutshell, Falstaff, ably played by John Rousseau, has a big stomach, a big head, and big plans. Namely, he schemes to woo, and bed, two respectable married ladies of Windsor: Mistress Page (Maryann Schaupp-Rousseau) and Mistress Ford (Julie Hughett). Fat chance. Instead, our two discriminating lovelies toy with and humiliate poor Sir Falstaff at every turn...and we get to watch. Now there are those Shakespeare-o-philes who might look down their aquiline noses and pronounce in their very upper, upper crust King''s English, "This really isn''t up to his usual standard, you know. Not quite up to snuff, as it were. He just wrote it to please the Queen." And to them I say "Bosh!" Our lad Will wrote everything to please someone. So, lighten up. And to those Shakespeare-o-phobes out there...this might be your ticket. It''s broad, it''s funny...and even if you have a hard time with the language...you''ll get it.
Opening night''s performance got off to a somewhat slow start, but once everyone warmed up it was loads of laughs for the rest of the evening. Some of the stand-out performances, amongst a goodly number of them, were: Michael Lojkovic as Slender, a half-hearted suitor and fop; Tim Hart as Sir Hugh Evans, and Stewart Lyle as Dr. Caius. They were funny, both together and apart. Sir Evans'' duel preparation scene...a man alone with his sword...is screamingly funny. The subsequent "duel" with Dr. Caius, is funnier still. Shannon Warrick as Mistress Quickly was fun to watch and her accent was terrific. The slack-faced, loose-limbed Rob Devlin as Simple was a gobbish delight. (Although, I did catch a spark of intelligence in his eyes.) Both Schaupp-Rousseau and Hughett were quite good...their first scene with the unwitting Falstaff was a highlight. The second act found both "Mistresses" pushing their respective characters over the top a bit, however. Last, but certainly not least, is Shane Stokes as the insanely jealous husband Master Ford. The intensity, physicality, and comic sense he brought to the role were splendid.
Deskin-Jacobs is to be commended for melding a cast of varying stage experience and training into a real ensemble. While it is possible to tell who is most comfortable with Shakespeare''s language, virtually everyone handled it well. However, I would question turning the "Hostess of the Garter Inn" (MaryLee Sunseri) into a musical role. Sunseri was bright and graceful, but the music interrupted the flow of the show, and the lights reflecting off the brightly polished surface of her instrument were at times blinding.
The set (by Steve Judge) was one of the few disappointments of the evening. It looked unfinished and unwieldy. There was little, or no texturing to give a period look, and there were doors everywhere that often weren''t used enough to justify them. Also, the pink and white color scheme of the Ford''s home was too bright and out of sync with the rest of the color scheme. (It looked especially jarring when the background lighting was orange.)
Quibbling aside, PRT''s Merry Wives is a fun evening at the theater and I recommend this one for the whole family.
At the Golden Bough, Carmel, 622-0100.Opening Christopher Robin and We Saturday 2pm and 4pm, Sunday 1pm and 3pm. Children. A collection of poems by A.A. Milne, adapted by Unicorn Theater founder Carey Crockett and put on especially for children by the Family Fantasy Theater troupe. Hoffman Playhouse, 320 Hoffman St., Monterey. $5/General. 649-0259. Through: 10/17. Now Playing
Fortinbras Thursday, 7:30pm; Saturday, 2pm. Comedic Drama. It''s best if you know Hamlet, but even if you don''t, the strong writing (by Lee Blessing), wonderful staging and uniformly excellent performances of this clever take-off of the original Shakespeare tragedy will have you in stitches. John Farmanesh-Bocca is a delight as Fortinbras, a character who, in Hamlet, comes on at the very end of the play for a couple of thankless lines, but who here becomes the central figure in a "what-if" comedy that pokes fun mercilessly at the tale of the Depressed Dane. All the Hamlet characters come back to un-life, to thwart--in hilarious fashion--Fortinbras'' hare-brained attempts to unite the kingdom he''s inherited (by default). Thurs.-Fri. ticket prices $18/General, $10/Students & seniors. Circle Theater at the Golden Bough, Monteverde Street at 8th Avenue, Carmel. 622-0100. Through: 10/16.
The Front Page Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. Comedy. This newsrooom comedy was written 70 years ago by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, working reporters in Chicago in the years when Al Capone ruled the streets. A conniving Chicago newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to get his star reporter to cover just one more story. The Studio Theater at Western Stage, Hartnell College, 156 Homestead Ave., Salinas. $15/General; $10/Children; $13/Seniors. 755-6816. Through: 10/16.
Merry Wives of Windsor Friday-Sunday, 7:30pm. Reviewed in this issue. Saturday prices: $20/General, $12/Students & seniors; other days, $18/General, $10/Students & seniors. Friday only: Free for students in any Monterey County middle or high school! Golden Bough Theater, Monteverde Street at 8th Avenue, Carmel. 622-0100. Through: 10/17.
Mizlansky/Zilinsky or "Schmucks" Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 5pm. Comedy. Set in L.A. at the height of the ''80s-greed decade, this outrageous comedy stars Mark Shilstone-Laurent as Davis Mizlansky, a grade-B producer who puts out cheesy Bible tapes as a tax shelter scam. He tries to suck his former partner and best friend, fellow sleaze-ball Sam Zilinsky (Jerry Gill) into the scheme. Together, they push the edge of the morality envelope. Carl Cherry Center for the Arts, Guadalupe Street and 4th Avenue, Carmel. $14/General; $12/Seniors. 646-9478. Through: 10/3.
The Road to Frisco Friday & Saturday, 8pm. Melodrama. This 19th-century melodrama set in the Old West follows the tale of a purloined map of the Golden Dream mine, which is lifted from its rightful owner, our young heroine. She sets off with her uncle in pursuit of the map, and tangles with some dastardly banker types. The show, performed in California''s oldest continuously operating theater, is followed by the traditional olio revue (song, dance and comedy numbers). California''s First Theatre, Scott and Pacific streets, Monterey. $10/General; $5/Children; $8/Seniors. 375-4916. Through: 10/2.Closing
Feet of Clay Friday-Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. Comedic Drama. This short play by Rebecca Gorman is the first-place winner in this year''s Festival of Firsts national playwriting competition. It''s the story of a young woman artist who smashes all her sculptures to bits right before her big show opens, and then goes through a series of intrigues and encounters before reclaiming her artistic integrity. Sunset Center, San Carlos Street at 8th Avenue, Carmel. $5/General. 624-3996. Through: 9/26.
Hot-L Baltimore Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 7pm. Comedy. Unicorn Theater presents Lanford Wilson''s story of New York City''s Hotel Baltimore, in its time one of the great city hotels, now fallen into disrepair and disrepute. This adult comedy is not appropriate for young children. Directed by Derek Niegemann. Hoffman Playhouse, 320 Hoffman St., Monterey. $15/General; $12/Seniors. 649-0259. Through: 9/26.
Luv Thursday and Sunday, 7pm; Friday and Saturday, 8pm. Comedy. Harry is depressed; he runs into Milt, who hates his wife; Milt wants to marry her off to Harry, so he can wed his girlfriend. This Murray Schisgal comedy is a clever spoof of avant-garde drama, the kind that takes itself oh-so-seriously. SRO Studio Theater at Monterey Peninsula College, 980 Fremont St., Monterey. $7/General. 646-4085. Through: 9/26.
The Sound of Music Thursday-Sunday, 8pm. Musical. OK, so "America''s favorite musical" is put on 500 times a year in this country, but Pac Rep''s production at the Outdoor Forest Theater really sings. Maria''s great, the kids are great, the nuns are great, the entire show is tip-top entertainment. And there''s even a built-in chance to sing along (watch for it). Outdoor Forest Theater, Santa Rita Street and Mountain View Avenue, Carmel. $15/General; $10/Children; $/Seniors. 622-0700. Through: 9/26.Auditions
Moon Over Buffalo Saturday and Sunday, 1-4pm. Comedy. Four men and four women of various ages are needed for this "backstage comedy," scheduled for performances on the MPC Main Stage Dec. 2-19. Directed by Sid Cato. Monterey Peninsula College Morgan Stock Theater, 980 Fremont St., Monterey. 646-4085.
The Man Who Came to Dinner Monday and Tuesday, 6:30pm-8pm. Comedy. Men and women, ages 18-65, are needed for this Unicorn Theater comedy by George Kaufman and Moss Hart. Production will run Dec. 2-19. Call director Jody Gilmore at 649-0259 for audition information. Hoffman Playhouse, 320 Hoffman St., Monterey.
Wharf Theater Sunday and Monday, 7:30pm. Auditions for three musicals: Godspell, running Nov.21-Jan.2; On The Air, running Feb.18-April 23; and My Fair Lady, scheduled for next summer. Bring a prepared song. Call 659-2440 or 649-2332 for more information. Fisherman''s Wharf, Monterey.