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BWW Review: The Gaslight's IF THE SHOE FITS

Chase Miller, Andy Brown and Charlynn Carter

No matter how hackneyed and corny the script, if you have an experienced ensemble of actors who are adept at physical comedy, who have perfected their timing through years of onstage experience and who are relatively fearless in their approach to a script (any script, most likely), chances are you can deliver a show that audiences will find delightful. That's certainly the case with If The Shoe Fits, the comedy now onstage through February 13 at Gaslight Dinner Theatre, the company in residence at Freed Hardeman University's Renaissance Center in Dickson.

Directed by Greg Frey and featuring a four-member cast who deliver the comedic goods with more than a little style and flair, If The Shoe Fits is by Matt Thompson, former Nashville theater stalwart Matt Chiorini and Dana Vermette, and is the ideal choice for a mid-afternoon diversion that comes served along with a tasty buffet of catered roast beef and mashed potatoes. It's frothy and kooky - filled with unbelievable situations and bad puns - that belies the playwrights' intelligence and offers up some genuinely laugh-out-loud lines that reward some smarty-pants audience members with jokes that the hoi polloi are unlikely to get.

The set-up is unlikely and farcical from the start: George (Chase Miller), a shoe fetishist/salesman, and Delores (Charlynn Carter) met at Shoe Fantasy - where George works and Delores buys a lot of footwear - and after months of assignations and late night shoe-shopping trips they have become illicit lovers. Marvin (Andy Brown) is Delores' dumb as a rock husband, who would never consider a divorce in order to allow the two lovers to become man and wife, so George and Delores hatch a plan to do him in, thus collecting the payout of his life insurance policy.

Charlynn Carter and Tammie Whited

Delores invites George for dinner, to introduce him to Marvin, and to set the nefarious plot to poison him on its circuitous route. As can be expected in dinner theater farce, the course of murder does not run smooth, so all manner of hilarity and hijinks ensue, replete with the entrance of a fourth comic conspirator, Esperanza the Spanish maid (Tammie Whited). The antics become even funnier as the night and the plot progress and, as might be expected, you can rest assured that things are never quite what they seem.

Eugene O'Neill it ain't, let's be honest, but what If The Shoe Fits is - well, it's funny, despite the hoary trappings of the plot and the genre. Some of the lines from the three playwrights are surprisingly clever, while others are groaningly bad but never offensive. And thanks to Frey's direction of his four capable actors, you are likely to find yourself laughing more often than not and realizing by the show's final curtain that you have had a good time, despite your previous claims of theatrical sophistication.

Brown, Carter, Miller and Whited are charmingly fearless during the play's 90 minutes, delivering their lines with confidence and performing a series of pratfalls with surprising grace. Like a well-oiled comic machine, the four actors show off their ineffable skills with aplomb, obviously having fun while doing so.

Miller shows off a heretofore unnoticed ease in the slapstickiest of scenes, contorting himself at will while performing with abandon. Carter entices and engages - it's easy to see why George fell so head-over-heels (probably Manolo Blahniks) for Delores - with an easy grace, while Brown plays the overbearingly unfunny Marvin with just the right amount of zeal and zaniness. And when Whited takes the stage, she offers a no-holds-barred interpretation of her character that teeters just slightly over the top while somehow remaining believable.

If The Shoe Fits will never appear on any "best show of the season" lists, to be certain - there is nothing innovative or particularly original about it - but it's sure to leave a smile on your face, thanks to the all-out efforts of an ensemble of committed performers who aren't afraid to look ridiculous while you're taking one last bite of chocolate cobbler.

  • If The Shoe Fits. By Matt Thompson, Matt Chiorini and Dana Vermette. Directed by Greg Frey. Presented by Gaslight Dinner Theatre, at the Renaissance Center, Dickson. Through February 13. For tickets, call (615) 740-5600 or go to Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes (with one 15-minute information).

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