Saturday, May 14, 2011

Final Performance Tonight of Rockaway Theatre Company Production of "Lend Me a Tenor"

Excerpt from my column in The Wave (, Pub. May 13, 2011

Are Rockaway People Crazy?

 Yes, I'm talking to you - if you haven't gotten your ass down to the Rockaway Theatre Company to see "Lend Me a Tenor." I couldn't believe it. Last Saturday's show was not overflowing with crowds clambering to get into a show that could easily play on Broadway. I guess you all would rather pay over a hundred bucks a ticket and $40 for parking instead of $15 ($! 2 for seniors) and free parking. Here is a show that will have you roaring with laughter on a set superbly designed by Tony Homsey where you can see doors opening and closing in perfect synchronicity as the wild, perfectly choreographed slapstick takes place with controlled mayhem as directed by Peggy Page. Peggy, who directed the first version of the show in 2002 has even topped herself. I should know.

Peggy helped guide me through my acting debut in last December's production of "The Odd Couple." How nice to see so many participants from that show taking part in this production. The great comic actor David Risley (who played Felix) takes his acting to a new level as Max. David loves to carry the load in a play and he has a major load in this play which he carries off to perfection.

The Pigeon sisters, Kim Simek and Susan Corning, return as Maggie and Julia, two sexy women of different generations chasing after a famous opera singer but not always getting the right man. I've seen Susan in every single show she's been in and every time I see her I want to ask for her autograph. Kim, a middle school science teacher (who spent hours backstage at our show marking papers) is a rising young star at RTC.

Jodee Timpone, who as Assistant Stage Manager helped keep me upright when I was backstage, is up front and center as Diana in one of the sexiest performances you will ever see (excuse me for a minute while I take a cold shower). I've never seen Cliff Hesse fail to deliver a top-notch performance and here he hits the nail on the head again as Max the impresario who takes watching the bottom-line to extremes. I've seen Barbara Kelly's wonderful dancing in so many shows but never saw her act before and as Maria she can inspire fear as she dominates the stage whenever she is on. Baltar Beckheld plays her husband Tito, the famous Italian opera singer, even though in real life he is Swedish. Both of them are reprising the roles they created in the 2002 production. Baltar can really sing opera and I hope to see more of him on the RTC stage in the future.

The always great Frank Ciaiti, who taught me everything I ever knew about acting, is the hilarious bellhop, doing the kind of contortions that requires a full-time chiropractor to be on call. (As one of my friends who showed up said, "He's your TEACHER? He's 24 years old.) The only complaint I have about Frank is that I don't get to see him act enough. But he also likes to direct as he will be doing along with Susan Corning in the upcoming (October) RTC production of  "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."

We almost didn't make the show as we had a surprise call from cousins whose flight to South Africa was cancelled earlier in the day and they were stranded at a hotel at Kennedy. We rescued them and took them to the show. A young couple, they had never seen a community theater show before and were very suitably impressed. Believe me, they are the last people who I would have thought would enjoy the show. The unique way they close the show is worth the price of admission by itself.
So, you Rockaway Crazies. This weekend is your last chance to see "Lend Me a Tenor," Friday and Saturday nights and the Sunday matinee. I'll be there taking attendance.

NOTE: The Sunday matinee has been canceled due to the death of someone in a cast member's family. Tonight is the final performance. And I won't be there taking attendance as I have tickets to a Broadway show. Not to be a total hypocrite, they are TDF and we're taking the subway.

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