Review: SQUABBLES at New Theatre Restaurant

Light Laugh Out Loud Comedy

By: May. 05, 2024
Review: SQUABBLES at New Theatre Restaurant
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Review: SQUABBLES at New Theatre Restaurant
Donny Most as Abe Dreyfus

I’ve noticed that we don’t laugh out loud today nearly as often as I remember. For those of you who feel the need for a light, fun evening of laugh out loud comedy and a delightful meal, let me recommend “SQUABBLES” a live comedy play that has just opened at New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park.  “SQUABBLES” is a light comedy with an unusually tight and experienced cast featuring Donny Most (from the old “Happy Days” sitcom) and an excellent group of mostly local actors.  The locals are well enough known to the audience that many of them rate individual rounds of applause upon first appearance.

Donny Most’s fire engine red hair as Ralph has now gone white, but he is endearing as grumpy Abe Dreyfus.  The show is set at the Connecticut home of Jerry and Alice Sloan.  Alice, an attorney, is Abe’s mid-30ish daughter. Alice (Amy Attaway), is happily married to Jerry (Ross Hellwig), an advertising jingle writer.

Review: SQUABBLES at New Theatre Restaurant
Amy Attaway as Alice and 
Ross Hellwig as Jerry

Seventy-two-year-old Abe, a former taxi driver and widower, is in the recovery period from a mild heart attack.  Alice is a little irked by Abe’s rough edges as daughters often are by their father who continue to tell Dad jokes after the daughter has reached maturity.  Jerry is still amused by Abe, but he realizes that Abe’s residence with them must be temporary.

A running joke is established.  Abe rushes to answer the phone with the call letters from a local country and western radio station.  It becomes clear that the station is running a cash promotion so that any time a random number is dialed, if the answerer responds with the station call letters, he or she will win a cash prize.

Alice tells Jerry she may be pregnant and will receive confirmation by phone from her doctor in just a few minutes.  The telephone rings incessantly and Abe answers with the radio call letters and the caller hangs up.  Alice warns her dad that she is expecting a special call and please knock it off with the radio promotion. 

Review: SQUABBLES at New Theatre Restaurant
Donny Most as Abe and 
Cathy Barnett as Mildred

Dr. Porter calls and they receive the news that Alice and Jerry will soon become parents to a welcome addition to their family.  They are still  rejoicing and rearranging the household to accommodate a nursery when the telephone rings again.  It is Jerry’s Mom, Mildred (Cathy Barnett). 

There has been a fire at her home and Mildred would also like to move in with Alice and Jerry.  Of course, they have no choice but to accede to her request.

Unfortunately Abe and Mildred have little use for each other.  They constantly SQUABBLE.

Completing this very active household, are Abe’s card buddy Sol Wasserman (Victor Raider-Wexler) and an unexplained hillbilly neighbor named Jimmy James (Craig Benton). Jimmy James is eternally on his way to the Sloan's upstairs water closet for unknown reasons.  I mean we know the reasons, but we have no idea why Jimmy James can't use his own bathroom.  

The four main characters uncomfortably negotiate their way through Alice’s pregnancy.  Three week prior to the expected delivery date, Jerry and Alice decide that the four of them cannot go on like this forever. 

The SQUABBLES have to stop. Alice and Jerry rent a one bedroom apartment nearby for one of the parents to move into.

Review: SQUABBLES at New Theatre Restaurant
Craig Benton as Jimmy James

Alice unexpectedly goes into early labor during a March snowstorm.  They head for the hospital, but before heading out the door, Jerry and Alice exact a promise from their parents.  They are not to fight during the kid's delivery absence.

Abe and Mildred keep their promise.  I won’t spoil the accommodation they come to before Alice and Jerry and their new baby return home  with their preemie nurse in tow. She is Mrs. Fisher (Julie Shaw). Mrs. Fisher has a Natasha Fatale accent and sports a concentration camp capo manner.

Like many shows at New Theatre, the evening ends with a curtain speech by the featured player.  Dony Most seems like a nice man and genuinely pleased to be in Kansas City.  Mr. Most, a little uncomfortably, relates his previous experience with the New Theatre producers and with some of the other actors from “Happy Days.”  The audience enjoys his reminiscences.  Nice man and relatable.

Review: SQUABBLES at New Theatre Restaurant
Victor Raider-Wexler as Sol

The director of this production is Todd Lanker.  I have known Todd in various venues and positions for a number of years.  Todd has done an excellent job with SQUABBLES and nothing is much tougher on a director than commercial comedy. It is a pleasure to see him in his first directorial role for Monsieurs Carrothers and Hennessy and Fox.  They are all gentlemen of the first order.  

As usual, the technical execution on the set is outstanding.  In particular, you notice the reality of the snowstorm going on outside and the roofline and dormer windows that are there for no better reason other than they complete the reality of the setting.  We are fortunate to have these pros in our community.

Sound and lighting are outstanding elements.  The house staff is solicitous, and the level of their training stands out along with the delicate ballet required to serve more than six hundred people at every performance in an hour.  Then they recover during Act 1 to serve drinks and dessert and recover the dishes and flatware during a standard short intermission.

You will find SQUABBLES an enjoyable evening with lots of Dad/Vaudeville humor.  It is silly, but it is fun.  Upon researching SQUABBLES, I found a reference to it have premiered in 1982 at a Kansas City Dinner Theater.  I can’t say the Dinner Theatre was Tiffany’s Attic (the predecessor to New Theatre) for sure, but I would not be surprised.

SQUABBLES continues at New Theatre Restaurant through June 30.  Tickets are available at or by telephone at 913-649-7469.

Photos courtesy of Mike Savage


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