BWW Review: Very Silly but Funny MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON'S at 2ND STORY THEATRE

BWW Review: Very Silly but Funny MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON'S at 2ND STORY THEATRE2nd Story Theatre in Warren is currently offering Sam Bobrick and Ron Clark's 1979 classic MURDER AT THE Howard Johnson'S. Did I say classic? What I meant was a shallow, pithy, superficial, farcical, and light-weight comedy. Bobrick and Clarke cut their teeth writing tv comedy for some of the smartest television of all time like The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Steve Allen Show. (Look these up if you have to.) This is a comedy about murder and infidelity-now who couldn't like that? 2nd Story says they were shooting for "a pain-reducing balm" to what we've been experiencing the past months, and I think they more or less delivered. The audience was laughing and, my God, needed it.

Okay, the plot: at the outset Arlene Milller (Lara Hakeem) and her paramour-dentist (Wayne Kneeland) plot to murder her husband Paul (Michael McAdam). She seems to have mixed feelings about murdering the guy-he's always been a devoted husband-but what must be, must be. As Dr, Miller and Arlene go about killing the poor schnook, Paul insists that he, "never wanted any other woman. Why would I? I hate women." Without giving to much away, the three take turns in the three scenes plotting the murder of a different member of the trio. Bobrick and Clark wrote for television, and this does have the feel of a sitcom-I can't tell whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

For the most part, the cast delivered. I thought McAdam as Paul made the best use of the material he was given. The funniest thing about Wane Kneeland's Dr.Mitchell was his complete lack of depth or self-awareness-O my God, it's a dental stereotype! And finally, Lara Hakeem: even though she flubbed a couple of lines, she is a strong actress and knows how to make it funny. In superficiality, her Arlene was a good match for the dentist.

If you are not old enough to remember the Howard Johnson's Motor Lodges, then you will not get maximum enjoyment out of Max Ponticelli's set. It's all there; the bright blue rug, the orange curtains, the double bed, the tacky furniture, and the faithfully recreated sign. If you're old enough, it brought you back to a place you're pretty sure you never wanted to see again.

MURDER AT THE Howard Johnson'S by Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick runs in the Downstage theatre at 2nd Story Theatre until March12th. Performances are at 7:30 Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2:30 0n Sunday. Running time is one hour and twenty minutes including an intermission. Tickets are $35.00, $25.00 for anyone twenty-five or younger, and $20.00 for those who have the foresight to go on preview weekend (too late for this show). 2nd Story Theatre is located at 28 Market St., in Warren. The box office can be reached at 401. 247. 4200 or at www.2ndStoryTheatre.com. The venue has a nicely stocked bar (I you are going to get a drink, get it before intermission, as the second act is short.) and is handicap accessible with lovely accessible bathrooms on both floors.

Photo credit, Richard Dionne Jr.


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