BWW Review: MOON OVER BUFFALO at Little Theatre Of Mechanicsburg
Ken Ludwig's 1995 farce Moon Over Buffalo is a favorite among community theatres-with its off-beat characters, use of multiple doors, mistaken identities, and quick-paced humor, it's a fun show for directors and actors to sink their teeth into. It's a story of two aging actors, George and Charlotte Hay, trying to resurrect their careers while their daughter, Rosalind Hay, attempts to distance herself from the life of the theatre. For an evening of laughs, you can catch Moon Over Buffalo at Little Theatre Mechanicsburg through September 22nd.
The production team for this show has done a wonderful job. Ted Williams's set design, constructed by Ben and Ted Williams and painted by Patrice P. Whitson (director) and Jessi Gillingham (Stage Manager), is well-designed. Audiences will be amazed at how they fit all of the requisite doors on their small stage without making it seem crowded. The judicious use of set dressing keeps the stage from being cluttered while making it clear that the audience is seeing the backstage area of a theatre and, later in the show, the theatre's stage. Dave Rowland's sound design and Catherine Tyson-Osif's lighting design serve to complete the effect. The costumes, by Keri Miller deserve a special round of applause.
Moon Over Buffalo requires excellent comedic timing and genuine interactions between the characters. Little Theatre Mechanicsburg's cast does an admirable job with both of these elements. Ashleigh Sites, newcomer to the LTM stage, portrays Eileen, a young actress with whom George has a dalliance that results in Eileen getting pregnant. Sites presents a unique interpretation of Eileen. Most productions show Eileen as overly emotional, completely distraught, and borderline hysterical throughout the show. While Site's interpretation may not be what audience's familiar with the show expect, I found it to be a fresh take on the character. She gives Eileen a matter of fact attitude that borders on cavalier, and she seems to almost take some satisfaction in the fact that she has sewn discord between George and Charlotte. Site's Eileen is less naïve and more resilient than other portrayals I have seen of this character, but it works!
Denise Carman, an LTM favorite, takes the stage as Ethel, Rosalind's hard of hearing grandmother. Carman has a knack for comedy and an ability to stay in character even when moving set pieces. She is a joy to watch in this role, with delightful sarcasm and excellent facial expressions. As someone who also recently played a part that was much older than her actual age, I am happy to say that Carman is definitely equal to the challenge of playing the grandmother. Her interactions with the characters of George and Charlotte may remind some audience members of their relationships with their parents/in-laws (in a humorous way, of course).
Kristen Borgersen and Melanie Geer take on the roles of Charlotte Hay and Rosalind (Roz) Hay, mother and daughter. In the particular performance I saw their timing seemed a little off from the rest of the cast in the first act, but they hit their stride in act two, which served to heighten the comedy and bring the show to a side-splitting end. Borgersen plays Charlotte with the perfect touch of melodramatic diva. Some of my favorite scenes for her are when she interacts with Kenneth Pierson's Richard-the Hay's lawyer who is in love with Charlotte. Borgersen infuses Charlotte's character with tenderness that we don't see in the other scenes, and she lets Charlotte drop some of her "actress" persona around Richard.
Rosalind Hay, daughter of Charlotte and George, is one of the more interesting roles in the show, as the actor has to find a believable balance between Rosalind's love and exasperation directed toward her parents as well as between her love and frustration directed toward all things theatre-related. Geer handles this balance well. My favorite scenes for Geer are her scenes with Rosalind's ex, Paul, played by Jeremy Joynt. The tension between their characters makes for great comedy, and Geer does a great job of showing Rosalind's conflicting feelings toward Paul through her facial expression and body language.
Kudos to director Patrice P. Whitson, and the actresses portraying Charlotte, Ethel, and Rosalind for paying special attention to the family relationship between the three women. Borgersen, Carman, and Geer utilize similar facial expressions, gestures, and mannerisms to give the women a familial resemblance-it's a subtle but very effective technique that makes their relationship seem real.
Kenneth Pierson plays the role of Richard with sincerity. His Richard is unassuming and genuine, and his scenes with Charlotte are heartfelt and emotional. One of the less comedic characters in the show, Pierson's Richard is a nice contrast to the over-the-top dramatics of the Hay family.
Howard, Rosalind's weatherman fiancé, is portrayed by Andrew Rhoads. Rhoads is hysterical in this role. His body language is perfect to display Howard's nervousness at meeting Rosalind's family, as he shifts from foot to foot, ducks his head in an aw-shucks way, and fiddles with his hands. His scenes with Charlotte and with George and Paul where they mistake him for someone else are scenes where Rhoads really shines. He is definitely a crowd favorite.
While everyone in this production brings something special to their character and to the overall production, for me Gordon Einhorn and Jeremy Joynt really steal the show as George Hay and Paul. Their comedic timing is spot on, keeping the pace of the show moving and the audience laughing. Joynt, another newcomer to LTM, is someone I hope to see in many more shows. His expressions, gestures, and interactions with the other actors bring the character to life. His energy and stage presence draw the audience in and keep them engaged.
Einhorn, as George, is equally exciting to watch. He particularly excels at the physical comedy required for his role. It's difficult to talk about George without giving away too much of the plot, but Einhorn's performance in act two alone is worth the price of the ticket to see the show. He makes a difficult role look easy. The interactions between Einhorn and Joynt are inspiring and elevate the energy and comedy of the entire show.
There have been some great comedies playing in central PA over the last month, and Moon Over Buffalo at Little Theatre Mechanicsburg is definitely one of them. Don't miss out on your opportunity to see this hilarious show tackled by a talent cast and crew. Visit ltmpa.com to order your tickets today!