Play offers strong cast

Production: `Moon Over Buffalo' by Ken Ludwig is a weaker play than his hit `Lend Me a Tenor,' but the skillful actors at Bowie Playhouse bring out the comedy.

Arundel Live

March 14, 2002|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

There's something comfortably familiar about 2nd Star's current production of Ken Ludwig's Moon Over Buffalo, playing through March 23 at Bowie Playhouse in White Marsh Park.

The play features many of the actors we enjoyed last spring in the company's hilarious version of Ludwig's big hit Lend Me a Tenor. In the current play, the group exploits a wealth of humor in a somewhat weaker play.

The story is set in 1953 in Buffalo, where actors Charlotte and George Hay have returned to the stage in a run-down theater managed by Charlotte's mother, Ethel. A subplot involves the couple's daughter, Rosalind, a former actress who was once in love with stage manager Paul. Rosalind is looking for a "real life" away from the theater with television weatherman Howard.

Other characters include pregnant ingenue Eileen, who is involved with George, and Charlotte's perennial suitor and business manager Richard Maynard. The comedy and confusion grow when the couple's hopes of resurrecting their careers are rekindled by an impending visit from movie director Frank Capra.

This production features a strong cast of actors in leading and supporting roles, including those who graced last spring's Lend Me a Tenor. Earlier cast in the role of the tenor's jealous wife, Maria, Heather Tuckfield again plays a jealous wife, this time in the leading role of Charlotte Hay.

Also returning from the earlier Ludwig play, Dani Wildason plays Rosalind, who conveys her character's mixed feelings toward her acting-legend parents and the two men in her life.

Having appeared in Tenor in an ingenue role, Nancy P. Dall now plays Eileen.

Howard the weatherman

John Parry, who made a memorable 2nd Star debut in Ludwig's earlier play, returns to play another young suitor, this time Howard the weatherman, conveying his character's tongue-tied fear at confronting the intimidating Hays couple, his future in-laws. Parry also displays great comic timing, loose-jointed athleticism and a commanding stage presence.

Company veteran Edward Kuhl is well cast as George Hay, seemingly delighted to play this actor described as "a walking ham - stick in some cloves." His drunken scene is believable, going from rational to smashed as he drinks what he assumes is sobering coffee but has been laced with bourbon. Kuhl is also skilled in taking pratfalls, appearing to dissolve into a limp heap.

Irene Patton makes her 2nd Star debut as Charlotte's mother, Ethel, and steals every scene she is in, delivering barbs with skill. She builds her hearing-impaired interpretation of her granddaughter Rosalind's remarks into uproarious misunderstanding. Ethel's growing hostility toward her son-in-law grows from naturally funny to a sidesplitting battle.

Richard the suitor

As Charlotte's patient suitor, Richard, Jack Degnan is believable as a businessman confused by the foreign world of show business. One of the most likable players is Todd Cunningham as Rosalind's former fiance, Paul. Cunningham is especially adept when acting in the play within a play with Rosalind, whom he obviously still cares for.

The play is directed by Charles W. Maloney and produced by Jane B. Wingard.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students. Reservations: 410- 757-5700.

All shows are at Bowie Playhouse in White Marsh Park on southbound Route 3 in Bowie, a half-mile from the Anne Arundel County line.

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