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BWW Review: Desert Rose Mounts a Hilarious Production of CLARK GABLE SLEPT HERE.

BWW Review: Desert Rose Mounts a Hilarious Production of CLARK GABLE SLEPT HERE.
The fixer (Yo Younger) arrives on the scene.

Is anything what it seems in the hilarious production of Clark Gable SLEPT HERE, now appearing at the Desert Rose Playhouse? In playwright Michael McKeever's combination "cozy" mystery, drawing room farce, and satirical nightmare, the answer is an emphatic "no."

Director Jim Strait is one of the funniest people I've ever met, and his wit shines through, via the actors' pacing and the uproarious stage business. Although Mr. McKeever's script needs pruning, the dialogue flies most of the time, as do the audience's guffaws.

It is the night of the Golden Globes, and superstar nominee Patrick Zane is on the red carpet with his wife. Someone else is on the carpet in Patrick's suite at Hollywood's historic Chateau Marmont hotel - a dead, naked man. The hotel manager calls Zane's business manager to warn him about the potential scandal, and soon, the hotel manager's plan to call the police flies out the window, resulting in all kinds of lunacy.

The two women in the cast have the juicy roles, and make the most of them. Melanie Blue generates much laughter as the maid. She eschews Latina stereotypes, except when her character deliberately affects stereotypical behavior to annoy the norteamericanos. Yo Younger is the tough Hollywood "fixer" who manages to find a solution for every mess into which her clients fall. She, too, makes the most of her meaty role, becoming increasingly unhinged as the story progresses. Her character seems to take special pleasure in shocking the ethical hotel manager (Winston Gieseke), who looks like the stereotype of a young Republican. Michael Pacas, as Hilly, Patrick Zane's manager, has some funny lines (often obscene), as does Travis (John Fryer), a cocaine-using "hookero" (hooker, with an "o" on the end), as the wise-guy maid calls him, but Hilly and Travis mostly serve as "straight men," comedically.

BWW Review: Desert Rose Mounts a Hilarious Production of CLARK GABLE SLEPT HERE.
The maid (Melanie Blue) leads prayers for the dead man
while the hotel manager (Winston Gieseke) prays with her
and the business manager (Michael Pacas) tries to
hurry her along.

The technical aspects of the production are top-notch. Jim Strait, who designed the scenery as well as directed, has perfectly rendered a suite in an expensive historic hotel. The furniture is lovely, and the lamps and the rest of the decor are sufficiently ongepotchket (overly busy, for those who don't know the Yiddish term) - exactly what I would expect in such a hotel. Phil Murphy's lighting is, as always, superb, and Allan Jensen has done a fine job with the costumes for the characters who wear clothes. The multi-talented Steve Fisher takes a turn as stage manager.

There is one thing about this production that I found problematic: The view is poor from the seats on the sides of the thrust stage, where I sat. In one scene, two of the characters had their backs to me. I suggest that audience members sit in the center, if possible. I recommend choosing seats at the rear of the room, rather than sit on the side, even if the side seats are closer to the stage.

Those who attend this show, the last of Desert Rose's 2016-17 season, will be rewarded with lots of laughs. However, do not bring teenagers; with full frontal nudity (male), ethical lapses, sexual topics, and raw language, this play is for adults only.

BWW Review: Desert Rose Mounts a Hilarious Production of CLARK GABLE SLEPT HERE.
(L to R) The maid, the fixer, the hotel manager, and the business manager
debate how to dispose of the body without anyone's noticing.

Desert Rose has announced that its summer season will offer a return, six-week engagement of last year's hit, PARTY, which will run from June 23rd through July 30th. Tickets for PARTY go on sale on May 15th.

Season tickets for 2017-18 will go on sale on August 1, 2017. Next season's productions will include Christopher Durang's VANYA & SONJA & MASHA & SPIKE (September 9-October 15, 2017), Charles Busch's TIMES SQUARE ANGEL (November 17-December 17, 2017), Peter Nichols PRIVATES ON PARADE (January 12-February 4, 2018), Tennessee Williams' SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (March 9-April 1, 2018), and one more play yet to be announced.

Tickets can be ordered online at www.desertroseplayhouse.org or by calling the box office at 760-202-3000. There is no service charge for Internet or phone orders.

The Desert Rose Playhouse is located just north of Frank Sinatra Boulevard, near the Emperor Buffet, at 69-620 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270. The Box Office opens at 4 p.m. before evening performances and at noon on Sundays.

Desert Rose is the Coachella Valley's only theatre company specifically oriented towards the local and tourist LGBTQIA communities, and to "gay-friendly" theatregoers. As a not-for-profit public benefit corporation, Desert Rose is required to raise a third of its annual budget from public support, rather than ticket sales. Donations are welcome. Please mail checks to Desert Rose Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 2256, Cathedral City, CA 92235. To submit donations through Paypal, click the link located on the Desert Rose Web site at www.desertroseplayhouse.org/Pages/Sponsorship.aspx.

Photo Credit: Paul Taylor


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