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Review: I'M NOT RAPPAPORT Charms at the Redhouse Arts Center

Review: I'M NOT RAPPAPORT Charms at the Redhouse Arts Center
L-R Ted Lange and Fred Grandy in the Redhouse Arts Center production of I'm Not Rappaport. Photo by Genevieve Fridley.

The Redhouse Arts Center in Syracuse, New York is now delighting audiences with their entertaining and engaging production of Herb Gardner's play I'm Not Rappaport. Impressively directed by Vincent J. Cardinal, the production marks the reunion of Fred Grandy and Ted Lange, castmates of the beloved television series The Love Boat.

The play was inspired by two elderly men that Gardner met in NYC's Central Park. They often spend their days sitting on a bench together in Central Park. There is Nat Moyer (Fred Grandy), a feisty and talkative gentleman who enjoys sharing some over-the top-stories that often stretch the truth. Then there is Midge Carter (Ted Lange), an at times difficult and cranky African American gentleman. Both men have a few things in common - of course the time that they both spend on the bench, but also their attempts to avoid the realities of aging. The stories, the debate, the friendship that these men share while relaxing on a certain bench in Central Park is on full display in this truly heartwarming, comedic, and engaging play.

The play deals with several themes including how society treats the elderly, the dangers that lurk in the city for the elderly, and the need for adult children to control their elderly parents - forgetting that their elderly parent still has a voice.

Tim Brown's scenic design brings Central Park to the Redhouse stage beautifully. The set features a dramatic and picturesque bridge soaring above the two center stage benches along with the various staircases. The setting is enhanced by Margaret Peebles lovely lighting design, which also serves the scene changes very well. The visual appeal of this production is outstanding.

This production shows off the impeccable acting skills of the very experienced Ted Lange and Fred Grandy. Their chemistry, line delivery, charm, and professionalism provide the definition of a masterclass in acting. It is an honor to witness and see this reunion come to life in such a delightful play as I'm Not Rappaport. As the talkative Nat Moyer, Fred Grandy's charm, spunk, and, comedic chops make his performance a standout. Ted Lange's physical acting, expression, and energy are also truly memorable. Their chemistry and history certainly add a lot to the already interesting roles.

While the two leading men truly give memorable and engaging performances, the supporting actors also deliver beautifully. The entire cast is captivating.

Laura Austin portrays Nat Moyer's daughter, Clara - a woman who believes she knows what is best for her elderly father. Austin is captivating in the role. Her energy, facial expressions, and chemistry with Grandy is a highlight of the production.

John Bixler plays Danforth, a man going for a run in Central Park who also needs to have a conversation with Midge Carter about his job. Nat Moyer's quick thinking and tongue tricks the oblivious Danforth when he pretends to be a lawyer protecting his client Midge from loosing his job. As per usual, Bixler's energy and line delivery is incredibly memorable and spot on.

Marguerite Mitchell plays Laurie, a young woman who sits and draws at the top of the bridge often peering down at the two spunky elderly gentleman and - at times - enjoying their banter. The mostly silent role showcases her lovely stage presence. Her performance includes a lot of poise, detail, and charm as an actress. Laurie only speaks later in the production when the audience meets The Cowboy (Ashley Strand) a dealer looking to collect money from Laurie. The quick talking Nat Moyer feels like he should come to the rescue of this lovely girl that he often admired while sitting on the bench, so he comes face to face with The Cowboy with the help of Midge. Ashley Strand's stage presence is powerful and strong as he portrays the not-to-be messed with Cowboy.

Nat Moyer and Midge Carter are easy targets for some riff raff that lurk in the urban area of Central Park. Ryan Dunn portrays Gilley, a young thug who insists on the men paying for his protection as he walks them home. In return, he won't hurt them. Dunn's presence is intense and memorable.

The talent, the chemistry, the story, and the stellar cast make this production of I'm Not Rappaport a must-see play at the Redhouse Arts Center. This play showcases stage acting at its finest.

Running time: Approximately two hours and fifteen minutes with one fifteen-minute intermission.

I'm Not Rappaport runs through March 24, 2019 at The Redhouse Arts Center at 400 South Salina Street, Syracuse, New York 13202. For tickets and information on this production and upcoming productions, click here or call the box office at 315-362-2785.

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Natasha Ashley has been a reviewer for Broadway World for quite a few years covering numerous productions throughout Central New York. She was born and raised in the suburbs of Syracuse, New York. ... (read more about this author)

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