by Tom Smith
Feb. 9th, 2013 at 8P.M.

I don't know why, but it has been my experience, that an audience finds any member of the clergy "on stage",...amusingly funny. Now, put into this mix a reporter, who is dressed like a priest, who is dressed like a nun, add to this 7 more, over the top, zany characters, in a story with a ridiculous plot, and you have a hilarious farce, called "Drinking Habits" now playing at the Carrollwood Players. It is just plain FUN!

The sound of Gregorian chants perfectly sets the tone of the play, as you enter the intimate 95 seat theatre. The open curtain reveals a realistic, unit set of a convent, complete with stained glass windows, arched doors and hallways. The warm, candlelight reflects a sewing table full of garments, center stage. There is a pre show speech, hosted by the Mother Superior, welcoming the audience with a few news briefs, along with some valuable tips that provoked laughter and really set the mood for the opening of the show.

The storyline unfolds in the main room of a tiny convent of the Sisters of Perpetual Sewing. Sister Augusta and Sister Philomena, in an act of desperation, are secretly making wine and selling it, in an effort to keep the convent from closing. Mother Superior, who is opposed to alcohol entirely, is kept in the dark about this little "prize winning" secret. Enter Paul, a local journalist with his ex-fiancée Sally, also a journalist, who are both after an exclusive story on the winemaking nuns. And there are three more characters to meet in this wild and crazy, comic, farce,... George, Mary Catherine, and Father Chenille. I will not say anything else, dare I give away any of the romance, mistaken identities, lost loves, and plot twists and turns that will keep you thoroughly entertained all evening.

Penny Willen makes a marvelously assertive, yet cautious, "whine"making, Sister Augusta. Her high energy, deadpan face and whiney voice, (think Alice Ghostly), brings laughs to each scene. Susan Dearden is a delightfully timid and meek, Sister Philomena (think Georgia Engel). The two are quintessential opposites and they work together beautifully on stage. Handsome, Andrew Blizzard as George the groundskeeper, is both funny and charming as the starry-eyed, yet befuddled, smiling, romantic. Carla Nolan is the somewhat androgynous, raspy voiced, Mother Superior. Her sharp, comedic timing and no nonsense character, leads the way for the rest of the cast. Paul Jannereth gives a solid performance as the magical, Father Chenille.

Listen for the multi-talented, silken voiced cherub, Jen Martin as Mary Catherine. This petite, bright, sparkling, wide eyed, talent (think Kathy Najimy) is perfectly cast in her role. I looked forward to all of her scenes. Isabel Natera brought a natural, honest, believability to her portrayal of Sally. Ms Natera was outstanding in every scene. She is a natural talent and the perfect foil for Kevin Kobasko, as Paul. Both actors had great chemistry and energy in their duet scenes. Mr. Kobasko is a comic genius. His acting and physical comedy brought gales of laughter from the moment he walked on stage. His scene-stealing portrayal of Paul (think Oliver Hardy), while stuttering and stamering through his dialogue with Mother Superior, brought the house down.

Kudos to Director Michael Cote, who cast this production very well. He kept the playful dialogue at a brisk pace, while incorporating some very funny bits. His frenetic, madcap, chase scene, in complete silence, was a highlight of his ensemble direction. Set designer, James Cass created a realistic convent in his unit set, that worked perfectly on the small stage. Costumes by James Cass and Jim Johnson were authentic, albeit a little wrinkled during this performance. Lighting design by Frank Stinehour was warm and effective and Mike Hall was right on cue as lighting and sound engineer. Stage Manager, Mandy Fields kept the scenes moving seamlessly.

Put some FUN in your life. Get some real belly LAUGHS!

* Note: There is a strobe light used briefly in this production.

"Drinking Habits" runs through February 23rd, 2013
Ticket Prices $18.00
There are special Student/Military and Senior discounts are available upon request
CALL - (813) 265-4000
The theatre is located at 4335 Gunn Hwy Tampa, Fl, 33618
The next production at Carrollwood Players is "Sex Please, We're Sixty" by Michael and Susan Parker, March 8 - 30, 2013

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From This Author Jimmy Ferraro

Jimmy Ferraro is an Award Winning Actor and “Theatre Veteran”. His professional career spans over 40 years in every aspect of show business. Ferraro’s credits (read more...)

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