BWW Review: ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS Entertains at the Central New York Playhouse
The Central New York Playhouse showcases a hardworking, high-energy, and comedic group of local Syracuse-area actors in its production of Richard Bean's farce One Man, Two Guvnors. The production, directed by Dustin M. Czarny, is the perfect season opener and brings loads of laughs.
The comedic play is an English adaptation of Servant of Two Masters by the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni set in 1963 Brighton. Dustin M. Czarny and Karen Greenfield's set (featuring a sofa, chairs, a balcony, and a few doors) utilizes the space well to create the setting for various scenes.
The play tells the story of Francis Henshall (Josh Mele), an out-of-work skiffle player, who is employed by two men, the gangster Roscoe Crabbe (Lauren Puente) and Stanley Stubbers (Josh Taylor). Francis' goal is to keep the two men from meeting so that they will not discover that he has more than one employer. To further complicate Francis' predicament, Roscoe is actually Rachel, Roscoe's twin sister. She is dressed as her dead brother Roscoe who was killed by her boyfriend Stanley, Francis' other employer. No worries there are still more character to complicate things further. There's local mobster Charlie (Jim Magnarelli), who arranged a marriage for his daughter Pauline (Alicia Cobb) with Roscoe. However, Pauline is in love with the over-the-top actor Alan (Chris Lupia). These characters, letters, a trunk, an elderly waiter, music, an "audience volunteer," Francis' love for food and Charlie's feminist and flirtatious bookkeeper are just some of the ways this farce entertains the audience.
The production opens with the engaging vocals by Josh Mele, playing the protagonist Francis, singing "London to Brighton Line." Mele engages the audience instantly as he confidently belts out the song with his effortless facial expressions and perfect comedic timing. Josh Mele is a strong lead whose energy and comedic talents steal each scene; he made the production a spectacular one.
Lauren Puente gives a consistent, confident, and comedic performance as Rachel impersonating her twin brother Roscoe. Puente easily switches roles with just with her voice and facial expressions. Josh Taylor is entertaining as he portrays the know-it-all upper class, and at times foolish, Englishman Stanley Stubbers. Puente and Taylor play off of each other really well.
Other players also make the production a successful one. Jim Magnarelli gives a confident and authoritative performance as the mobster, which is perfect for the character. Alicia Cobb as Pauline works well with Chris Lupia who gives an amusing performance as her love interest Alan. Katie Deforio entertains as Dolly, particularly when she flirts and speaks to the audience, breaking the fourth wall. On the night I attended, Binaifer Dabu as Alfie seemed to be an audience favorite as the elderly waiter with a wig resembling Einstein's hair. Dabu is very comedic in the role as she crashes in and out of scenes.
The unique show also features skiffle song sung by various cast members during scene changes. Under the excellent musical direction of Abel Searor, who also portrays Gareth the waiter, the numbers provide a great distraction as the scenes are being shifted on stage. The musical numbers also showcase some talented vocalists, especially Josh Mele and Jim Magnarelli.
Dustin M. Czarny has once again brought a wonderful group of comedic actors together to create another memorable production. One Man, Two Guvnors is the 50th stage show produced at the Central New York Playhouse and it's one you should see.
Running Time: Approximately two hours and ten minutes with one fifteen minute intermission.
Guidance: Some sexual innuendo and adult humor.
One Man, Two Guvnors runs through January 28, 2017 at the Central New York Playhouse in Dewitt, New York at the Shoppingtown Mall. For tickets and information on the current and upcoming productions at the Central New York Playhouse click here.