Review: MOON OVER BUFFALO at Candlelight Music Theatre

On stage through June 16th.

By: May. 20, 2024
Review: MOON OVER BUFFALO at Candlelight Music Theatre
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Candlelight’s MOON OVER BUFFALO is an uproariously funny comedy by Tony Award winning playwright Ken Ludwig. Last year they mounted his LEND ME A TENOR which was both parts as hilarious and charming. Ludwig’s plays have starred Carol Burnett, Alec Baldwin and Tony Shaloub, to name a few.

MOON has correlations to TENOR: period time-frame, Northeastern city, hard drinking-and-womanizing male star, resentful wife, novice stage manager perilously attempting to provide calm, slamming doors,  actors ‘coming out of the closet’, a character who's unconscious and MIA, and non-actors forced to go onstage.

Question: ‘What else can go wrong”? Answer: “Everything”.

Candlelight continues to attract not only those making their debut at ‘the barn’, but also those with impressive credentials. Director Jennifer Bostock has directed and choreographed 75 shows in the region and is a professor in the arts department at Bryn Athyn College. Huzzahs to her for keeping the action going at a pretty pace. This is a very physical show with stunts, pratfalls and wide-eyed, moon-faced expressions. The talented cast is most definitely up for the challenge.

The song from A CHORUS LINE, “What I Did For Love” comes to mind regarding the culture at Candlelight. There ain’t no way the cast and crew are paid the dollars that, for example, Delaware Theatre Company, remunerates the same positions with their Equity contracts.

The plot. B level traveling George and Charlotte actors are staging in repertory “Cyrano” de Bergerac”  and “Private Lives”, leading man George (the terrific Steve Connor who has notable acting skills along with flawless comic timing) gets a call from Frank Capra with the prospect of the two replacing Ronald Colman and Greer Garson in his current film. (Personal note: I keep telling people the name ‘Greer’ goes AC/DC).  

Charlotte (Heather Plank, who studied at the Lee Strasburg Theatre Institute. Think Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, makes her debut at Candlelight), has grandiose dreams of being the next Greer Garson and others. She rails against George for his being the reason she has lost all her chances.

Ethel (Susan Giddings) has a hearing problem which leads to hysterical one-liners. As she dramatically exited one scene stage left, I could only think of the classic interchange between Frau Blucher and Dr. Frankenstein in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. Cloris asks Gene if he would like wine before retiring. NO. She asks Gene if he would like tea. NO. Cloris tries again. NO. I’M TIRED. This ‘moment’ at Candlelight, the provenance of how Ethel exited reminiscent  of Cloris Leachman.

Another ‘debut’ actor is Howard (William R. McHattie). Aisle Say means this in all respect, but he looked and portrayed his character as if Pee Wee Herman was onstage. The open mouth, the wide eyes, the delivery and his meteorological acumen – and everything else - was right out of Pee Wee.

Aisle Say has seen Roz (Neena Boyle) in her 9 previous Candlelight productions. This is her greatest performance to showcase her comedic talent. The “Private Lives” scene with Roz waiting for the actor to enter comes to mind. Boyle’s ‘takes’ and her body movement reminded me of the naïve and tone deaf responses on the recent SNL classic of Ryan Gosling and Mikey Day as “Beavis and Butthead”.

Boyle’s English accent, accompanied by recent Barney Award winner and triple threat actor/singer/dancer Paul (Jared Calhoun) were impeccable. Jared has proven himself over his previous 14 shows to be the expert in physical comedy.

Aisle Say was served a pyramidical mountain of garlic mashed potatoes by our table’s affable server Jared. Owing to Aisle Say’s suggestion from his last gastronomical review, Chief David Ramirez added 5% more garlic. Quite pleasing to the palette.

Photos by Tisa Della-Volpe

Next Up: THE FANTASTIKS – July 13 – August 25


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