BWW Review: THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER at Reverie Actor's Company
Downtown Lancaster is, by far, the cultural hub of Central Pennsylvania. We got the iconic Fulton Theater and the Millersville Ware Center just up the street. However, some people might not be as familiar with the Trust Center for Performing Arts, just a stone's throw away from both of these places.
Tucked away on Market Street, next to the newly re-opened Lancaster Dispensing Company, the Trust Center is celebrating its fifth year of hosting music, dance, and theater is various intimate venues. Currently, the are housing the Reverie Actor's Company's production of The Man Who Came to Dinner which is a funny and refreshing classic from Broadway's past.
Even if you don't know the play, you are certainly familiar with its TV trope featured in dozens of sitcoms. A person is ill or injured, and is incapacitated. Friends and family pleasantly wait on this person hand and foot. All the while, the person's behavior becomes increasingly obnoxious.
The story stars Brian McCreary as Sheridan Whiteside, a radio celebrity who slips on the ice outside the home of the Stanley family, breaking his hip. He is confined to a wheelchair and must remain incapacitated while he heals. McCreary plays Whiteside with equal doses of pretension and irritation. I kept waiting for an exasperated family member to casually dump him on the floor after one of his many zingers.
Accompanying Whiteside is his personal assistant, Maggie, played by Sarah Zahn. Considering the 1939 setting, she is a surprisingly plucky and confident female character, and the only person willing to put the bully in his place.
Andrew Zahn plays Bert, a local newspaper reporter and aspiring playwright who falls for Maggie. I strongly suspect the reason Maggie and Bert had such great chemistry might have something to do with the actors sharing their last name?
The other ten actors in cast play multiple roles including members of the Stanley family, wacky movie stars, butlers, maids, doctors, nurses, and a creepy cockroach scientist. Some of these cast members were more experienced than others, but all of them had their moments and contributed to the energy and mayhem that this play requires.
My favorite among this motley crew was Dan Deal, who plays both the bumbling Dr. Bradley, as well as the flamboyant Beverly Carlton. His range was very impressive.
The Man Who Came to Dinner is presented in a small, in the round format. This worked well when the script called for confusion and chaos. Audience members were immersed in the excitement, and witnessed overlapping chatter wherever they looked.
However, there were some flaws that would be more forgiving if the audience was not so close to the action. Things like unconvincing wigs and actors reading from highlighted scripts wouldn't be so obvious from a distance. When a bumped prop fell to the floor with a heavy thud, the aftermath stole my attention longer than it should. Such are the trade-offs of working in an intimate venue.
Overall, the show was sharp, entertaining, and funny. I was especially pleased to see so many families bring their children and teens to this show. Kids need to experience live theater beyond Disney musicals. This is a great introduction
Tickets and more information can be found at their website.