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Review: Don Bluth Front Row Theatre Presents Paul Elliott's EXIT LAUGHING

Review: Don Bluth Front Row Theatre Presents Paul Elliott's EXIT LAUGHING

The production runs through October 22nd at Don Bluth Front Row Theatre in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Carpe diem! Smell the roses! These exhortations to relish life while you have it weave through the silly and reflective moments of Paul Elliott's EXIT LAUGHING, on stage now through October 22nd at Don Bluth Front Row Theatre in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Not so subtly buried within this rollicking comedy is a question that tugs at the heart of the mourners: How do you survive the death of a friend?

On the eve of their best friend's inurnment, the answer for Connie (Diedra Celeste Miranda), Leona (Jori Mosier), and Millie lies in ashes...that is, the purloined ashes of their dearly departed bridge partner.

Millie, a dowdy woman, endearingly quixotic and whimsical (and portrayed with lovable perfection by Barbara McBain), has broken into the funeral home and snatched Mary's urn for one last turn at the monthly card table. Fashionably clad (curtsy to costume designer Teresa Knudson) and ready for their girls' night in, Connie (sensible and forlorn) and Leona (a brash and lushy beautician) are chagrined and fearful that they all might be apprehended for the mindless crime.

Connie's day has already been beset with turmoil. Her daughter, Rachel (a bristling Rachel Brumfield) is furious over being stood up by a guy named "Bobby". There is enough to manage ~ grieving the loss of a friend and hosting the evening gathering ~ without being besieged by her daughter's tantrum.

Leave it to a constant flow of liquor to fuel their agitation until the doorbell rings and their worst fear may be realized. The police (Van Rockwell, the play's director, doing double duty in a role with a surprising twist) have arrived and, suddenly, everything and everyone is up for grabs (literally and figuratively.) All bets are off and so too are the clothes as the cop swings into Chippendales action to the bemusement of his wide-eyed onlookers. As Rachel enters the frolics, shocked at the unseemly antics of her elders, there's more than the policeman's torso that is revealed.

No spoilers to what ensues. Only to say that here's where the play turns to bittersweet reflections on mortality and affirmations of life. Mary, even from the beyond, is a gift that keeps on giving and a reminder that the corollary to living the good life is that, when all is said and done, be sure to exit laughing!

The joy of this well-directed production lies in the crystal-clear performances of its cast and the delightful contrasts in the golden characters of Connie, Leona, and Millie. McBain epitomizes flakiness and delivers some of the play's funniest lines to perfection. Miranda adds a touch of elegance to her role as the beleaguered mother and hostess. Mosier is exuberant in her portrayal of a brash and fun-loving belle.

Photo credit to Stephanie Cartwright ~ L to R: Jori Mosier, Barbara McBain, Diedra Celeste Miranda

Don Bluth Front Row Theatre ~ ~ 8989 E Via Linda, Ste 118, Scottsdale, AZ ~ 480-314-0841

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From This Author - Herbert Paine

Herb Paine ~ Herb has served as Senior Contributing Editor and lead reviewer for BWW's Phoenix Metro Region since 2014. He has been acclaimed as BEST THEATRE CRITIC by PHOENIX magazin... (read more about this author)

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