Sunday, April 6, 2014

"Spreading it Around" is delightful senior comedy at Ocala Civic

If you are prudent in retirement, you might just have more money than you really need in your golden years.  That’s the case for widow Angela Drayton (Susan Moring) in the light romantic comedy “Spreading it Around” now playing at the Ocala Civic Theatre in their Signature Series.

Angela lives in a senior citizen complex where Martin Wheeler (Bill Collins) has become the ‘resident’ handyman since his wife passed away.  She is acutely aware of “Senior Scams” but would like to do something to help the less fortunate.  Why not establish a fund that she can personally decided that the recipients are legitimately needy?  She does, and has no trouble finding other seniors to contribute financially.

All should be well, but her scheming son Larry (Jeff Cole) and wife Traci-with-an-i (Laura Zavadsky) are after their ‘fair share’ of Angela’s wealth first.  As a comedy team, they are right on the mark.

Moring is a veteran actress more known for drama than comedy.  She teams up nicely with Collins who is making his OCT debut.

Sounds like a formula plot, but it is not.  Playwright Londos D’Arrigo has a knack for twists that make this show a pleasure to watch.

Director Fred Mullen has a long list of credits in both acting and directing in the local area and brings that background into making the right decisions for character development.  He now lives near Nashville and is a Guest Director. 

Ensemble reactions and line pickups (with a few exceptions) are excellent. 
Initial blocking of Martin needs some review.  Dee Collier readily handles the caneo role of the psychoanalyst.

“Spreading it Around” is a showing specially designed for seniors and several of the shows are matinees at 2 pm.  The show is a delightful way to spend an afternoon enjoying a pleasant comedy.  For specific details, please click on the icon on the left.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

OVER THE RIVER is Must-See family entertainment at IceHouse

                                                                     Photo provided

The song ‘Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go’ brings back many a childhood memory.   But the 29 year old Nick Cristano (Ryan Smith) who has every Sunday dinner with his four grandparents, it is better described by their family motto “Tengo familia,” in the tender comedy “Over The River” that opened last Friday at the Sonnentag Theatre at The IceHouse in Mount Dora.

Nick’s parents have escaped to Florida and his sister has traded the harsh Hoboken, New Jersey winters for San Diego. By default, Nick becomes the family lynchpin for the grandparents.  When Nick tells them about a job offer in Seattle, their world seems ready to crumble.

Grandparents Frank and Aida Gianelli (Charlie Woolfork and Margaret Appolloni) along with Nunzio and Emma Cristano (Lloyd Holder and Terry Hill) conspire to get Nick a girl friend hoping he will have second thoughts about moving west.  They invite unmarried Caitlin O’Hare (StephanieKuzicki) to dinner as a surprise.  The potential match up backfires and Nick ends up with an anxiety attack confining him to the Cristano homestead for the next week.

Now in close quarters and with extra time, Nick gets to really know and appreciate his grandparents.  On the other hand, the generation gap looms as a giant chasm when Nick tries to explain the game of Trivial Pursuit to his elders.

Playwright DiPietro has written a monologue for each of the grandparents that gives texture to the plot.  All
are well delivered.
Ryan Smith as Nick

Ensemble action with the four grandparents is excellent.  Each is an important, different character, but no one actor vocally or physically dominates the rest.  Some very good blocking makes the scene click whenever all four are together. 

Smith is a veteran of the local circuit with many roles in his resume, but this one seems like a perfect fit for his talents.  His narrations are sincere and the chemistry with his grandparents is obvious.

To fill out the exceptional casting, Kuzicki uses facial expressions to the maximum to nail her role.  Hair and costume are perfect accessories.

And there is Director David Clevinger’s hallmark:  The Set.  The open curtain stage offers a magnificent multi-level living and dining room assemblage for the actors.   Take a moment at the intermission to get close to the set and see attention to detail at its finest.

Some problems occurred with the lapel microphones during opening night.  These should be easily corrected.

DiPetro’s script is contextually one of the finest texts making the rounds today.  It has five main characters, one set, and keeps the audience guessing about the outcome to the last moment. 

This is a Must-See level show, so not miss this opportunity to see a great play script, fine acting, and a magnificent set.  The show runs through April 20.  For other information, click on the icon on the left

ODD COUPLE takes mainstage takes Ocala Civic Theatre

Oscar (Anthony Palumbo) and Felix (Max Tramell) face off in "Odd Couple"

Neil Simon’s most popular comedy “The Odd Couple” opened on Broadway in 1965.  It has become one of the staples for community theatres, but it is stuck in the 60’s and the current show at the Ocala Civic Theatre has done little to budge it.

Oscar Madison (Anthony Palumbo) is the quintessential slob, divorced, living alone.  Felix Unger (Max Tramell) is one of his poker buddies, a compulsive-obsessive neat-nick whose wife has just filed for divorce and threw him out.  When Felix moves in with Oscar, it is oil and water and hence the essence of the comedy.

With outlandish physical displays, Palumbo aces this role augmented by some good blocking on the large OCT stage.  Tramell, however, never seems to be comfortable and the prissy, fastidious side of Felix never congeals.  The ‘ladle’ sequence falls far short of where it should be.

Line pickup and pace are excellent and are personal and directorial hallmarks of Director Chip Morris. 

Poker buddies Kevin Moluene, Randall Moring, Ray Diaz, do a fine job moving things along.  John LaPaille as Murray, the policeman, has the most lines in a convincing portrayal.

Until the Pigeon sisters arrive, Neil Simon does his best milking a one-joke script.  The entrance of ‘the sisters’ make everything burst with excitement as Laura Bradford and Allison Metcalf add the right amount of spice and silliness that makes “The Odd Couple” a Simon classic.

Costuming is pedestrian and confusing.  Suit coats and ties for a poker game that goes into the wee hours of the morning just does not figure.

Pre-show and intermission music is too loud and while the songs rivet the show in the 1960’s, the selection could have been better.  Did I hear Dean Martin with “My Fair Lady’s” ‘On the Street Where you Live?’

With broad exposure “The Odd Couple” has had, I really expected some updating from OTC to breathe new life into the show.  I was desperate to see a cell-phone, at least.

“The Odd Couple” is a mainstage production at The Ocala Civic Theatre and runs through April 13..  For further information, click on the icon to the left.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014




Sands Theatre Company
Athens Theatre, Deland
Friday, April 4


KC Productions
Savannah Center
The Villages
Tuesday, April 8- 12
The Villages Box Offices


LSCC Leesburg Campus
Thursday, April 10

Bay Street Players, Eustis
April 18

Bay Street Players, Eustis
April 18



Villages Musical Theatre Company
Spring 2015 show
Thursday, Apr 24 6 pm Paradise
Friday, Apr 25 ,  Canal Street Rec
     9 am Dancers
     11 am Principal readings
Monday, Apr 28, 6 pm Coconut Cove


Villages Theatre Company
Mulberry Rec
May 19, 2 pm
May 20, 11 amProduction Dates:  Oct 17-20

Moonlight Players
Jan 13 - Jan 29