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BWW Review: WEEKEND COMEDY at Des Moines Playhouse:

Live Theatre is Back

BWW Review: WEEKEND COMEDY at Des Moines Playhouse:
Gina Gedler as Peggy
Sean Kanuso as Frank
Jobe Fee as Tony
Tiffany Liechty as Jill
Photo by Brent Isenberger.

On March 14, I had the pleasure to see and review Des Moines Playhouse's fantastic production of "Singing in the Rain." What I didn't know at the time, was that the theatre community was getting ready to shut down due to COVID-19, or that the performance I was seeing was going to be the productions closing performance. After a summer of Drive-in theatre, the Playhouse has decided to bring their first production back inside to the John Viars Theatre. "Weekend Comedy" by Jeanne Bobrick and Sam Bobrick opened on October 9 to a live and streaming audience, and it was just the dose of laughter everyone needed.

"Weekend Comedy" is about two couples at different places in their relationship, and how they see people on the opposite side of a relationship. We are first introduced to Frank and Peggy, who have been married for years, and have come to a cabin Peggy has rented as a way to disconnect from the world. As they settle into the cabin, another couple Jill and Tony, who has also rented the cabin show up to celebrate their third year as a couple. As the show continues we get to see what makes these couples different, but also the ways they are similar.

One of the great things about seeing a live performance again is that it gives an escape from our daily routine, and transports us to another place. This is done thanks to the talented group of actors assembled by director David Kilpatrick. The cast consisting of Gina Gedler, Sean Kanuso, Tiffany Lichty, and Jobe Fee. The latter three all making their playhouse debuts. One of the parts of their performances was how they made each of these couples come across differently. Gina and Sean, play an over the top couple who had instant chemistry on stage, while Tiffany and Jobe give a more restrained couple who slowly show us what makes them a couple. While I think this would work very well seeing the performance live, it didn't transfer as well for the stream. I think that comes to not being able to see facial reactions as well as some connection issues that popped up through the stream.

Another fun part about going to the Playhouse is how you are always transported to the world of the play through their backstage team. This show is no different. The beautiful set designed by Nicholas Amundson gives the audience the feel of a cabin but also makes it feel like this cabin could be anywhere. One thing I appreciated was the cohesiveness between Amundson's set design and the lighting design by Virgil Kleinhesselink. The partnership between the set and the lights was most noticeable anytime they went outside of the cabin. The set seemed to be built a little further out so it didn't seem like the cast was just going offstage. This allowed for the lighting to help with setting the time of day that people were coming to or leaving the cabin.

If you are looking to get out of the house and attend "Weekend Comedy," or "I and You" which opens next week, some precautions are being taken that you should be aware of. They require everyone to wear a mask during the show unless you are eating or drinking. When you enter the Playhouse, you must have your mask on, and a volunteer will take your temperature. If you enter from the downstairs entrance, they have a staircase they ask you to use going upstairs, and a separate stairway they ask people to sue going downstairs. When you are ready to go into the theatre, there is a checklist with those in attendance as well as your assigned seat for the performance. They will have a volunteer usher you to your seat as no tickets are being used for these performances. After the performance, which is done without an intermission, an usher will dismiss by rows to minimalize the traffic going out of the theatre.

Making the decision to go out and see a show during this pandemic is a personal decision. If you are ready to go sit in a theatre and see a show, "Weekend Comedy" is a great show to go see. If you aren't ready, you have another chance to see a Playhouse show on October 16, when the Playhouse opens "I and You," by Lauren Gunderson. Tickets for "Weekend Comedy" are still available. The show runs through November 8. For more information about "Weekend Comedy" or Des Moines Playhouse, visit https://www.dmplayhouse.com/events/weekend-comedy/

Review was written by DC Felton
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