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BWW Review: PLAZA SUITE at Des Moines Playhouse

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Running as Part of Des Moines Playhouse Tent Series

BWW Review: PLAZA SUITE at Des Moines Playhouse If hotels rooms could tell stories, what stories might they tell? Would they be stories of love or heartbreak, or something completely different? If you've ever thought of those questions, or are looking for a fun, entertaining night of theatre, then Des Moines Playhouse's production of "Plaza Suite" is the right show for you. On Friday, July 16, the show opened to a packed tent as part of the Playhouse's summer Tent series. And from the audience's reactions, this was just the comedy they needed this summer.

"Plaza Suite" by Neil Simeon tells the story of three couples at different points of their lives and their stories about their stays in Suite 719 at New York's famous Plaza Hotel. The first act tells the story of a couple who may or may not be celebrating their anniversary. After intermission, we meet a couple who knew each other in high school but are meeting again for the first time in years. After a short set change, we meet a couple whose daughter has locked herself in the bathroom on her wedding day. With each of these situations, hilarity ensues with some great physical and witty comedy.

Coming into the tent, the first thing you will see is the set designed by Alex Snodgrass. One of the things I appreciate was how much thought you could see went into the set. While it may not be as elaborate as one might imagine the Plaza Hotel in New York, what you did see on stage were pieces that gave the resemblance of a hotel suite. This allowed the set to be where ever each audience member wanted to be. While the set had a timeless feel to it, Angela Lampe's costumes set the time each scene was set in. I appreciated that the costumes allowed each act to be placed in a different time frame, yet were tied together with her costumes for the Bellhop and Waiter, whose costumes remained the same throughout the show. All of this is tied together with Sarah Grant's direction. While the comedy of having the same actors show up was missing with this show, I thoroughly enjoyed having three different couples in the roles and found that each couple was a great fit for their respective scenes.

To talk about the cast, I think it's best to break it down like the show, into three parts. The first act consisted of Jennifer Hughes as Karen Nash, Jim Benda as Same Nash, Jake Parks as the Waiter, and Jacob Jones and Samantha Miller making their Playhouse debuts as the Bellhop and Jean McCormack respectfully. Hughes and Benda play the lead couple in this scene. The physical comedy starts strong at the top of the scene. Hughes hysterically makes her way across to each side of the suite whenever the phone rang. The comedy continues as the two of them find themselves` squabbling over the little details of their marriage through the first act.

The second act consisted of the waiter, played again by Jake Parker, and our couple for the scene. Jessie Kiplinger, a Hollywood producer, and Muriel Tate, his high school girlfriend, played by Bobby Nalean and Emily Davis. I enjoyed the juxtaposition these two brought to their characters. While you expect the Hollywood producer to be over the top and the hometown girl to be the more down-to-earth character, you get the complete opposite.

Part of the fun of watching this show was how each act seemed to up the ante. The humor and physical comedy seemed to get bigger as the evening went on. So when we got to the final scene, the audience was warmed up and ready to have a good time. The last act features Donna Scarfe and Lorenzo Sandoval as the central couple Roy and Norma Hubley, along with short appearances from Jake Parks as the Groom Bordon Eisler and Samantha Miller as the bride Mimsey Hubley. Scarfe and Sandoval do a fantastic job embracing what the audience can see happening on stage and what is happening off stage. The timing of their reactions were spot on and had the audience in tears laughing.

Just like Suite 719 has plenty of stories to tell, so does the Des Moines Playhouse. After a challenging year that caused theatres like Playhouse to adapt the way they present shows, "Plaza Suite" was a great escape for audiences to relax and have an evening full of laughter. Whether this is your first time visiting Suite 719 and hearing its stories, or if you are looking to return, I highly recommend attending this production of "Plaza Suite." To find out more about this production, visit Plaza Suite - Tent Theatre - Des Moines Playhouse (dmplayhouse.com)

Review was written by DC Felton
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