Friday, May 2, 2014

Memo from the RTC: Time to Start Mooning Over Buffalo

Published in The Wave, May 2, 2014

Memo from the RTC: Time to Start Mooning Over Buffalo
By Norm Scott

I walked into a rehearsal of the Rockaway Theatre Company’s upcoming production of the very funny “Moon Over Buffalo,” a play that I, a theater ignoramus, had never heard of before even though Carol Burnett got rave reviews when it opened on Broadway 20 years ago. There on the stage were Kim Simek and Steve Ryan doing a love scene – take after take after take. Directors Leslie Ross and Alan Rosenfeld called for a more passionate kiss – maybe a little more groping and  tangling of limbs. “Let’s try it again.” Boy, this acting stuff sure looks like fun – from a distance. Watching the details of choreographing a comic love scene – which lasts at most maybe a minute - is like taking a cold shower.

When I heard the RTC was doing this play by Ken Ludwig, the only non-musical production the RTC is doing this year, I rolled my eyes. A play set backstage at a seedy theater in Buffalo? In 1953? Give me a break. Steve Ryan urged me to read the play. “It is very funny,” he told me. And so I did. And so it is. I laughed out loud a number of times – getting funny looks from my wife.

The basic story is that a famous and aging acting couple on the downside of their careers, Charlotte and George Hay,  are doing reparatory theater in Buffalo. One day they do “Cyrano” and the next Noel Coward’s “Private Lives.” Even I know enough about the theater to get the message that these plays can’t be more different – and if somehow an actor should get confused about which play is being performed – say due to an over abundance of vodka – well, you get the idea – and should be breaking into a smile – if not laughing out loud – at the thought of the comic implications.

But there is so much more. A deaf and daffy mother, a daughter trying to juggle two boyfriends, a pregnant mistress, lots of mistaken identities and comic lines flying around like a swarm of bees. The RTC did another play by Ludwig, “Lend Me a Tenor,” which was also very funny.

The lead role of Charlotte is played by one of our favorite RTC stalwarts, Jodee Timpone, who is well-known to the PS 114 community for the theater work she did with the children. I did a short video interview with Jodee before rehearsal the other day. Watch it and try to stay away from the play.

Ludwig plays call for lots of doors (there are 5) and exquisite timing for them to work. (One of my task in constructing the set was to install all the door knobs – so if a door doesn’t work correctly blame me). The RTC crew always make it happen the way it should, so I am looking forward to the opening on May 9 followed by other 8PM performances on May 10, 16, 17, 23 and 24. Sunday matinees: May 11, 18 at 2PM, with the May 11 Mother’s Day special $10 bargain – a great treat for moms.

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