Regional Reviews: Seattle
Over the Moon at Seattle Repertory Theatre
Also see David's review of A Radio City Christmas Spectacular
There is not a sugarplum, nativity scene, dreidel or Scrooge anywhere in sight at Seattle Repertory Theatre's holiday offering, but playwright Steven Dietz's Over the Moon, based on humorist P.G. Wodehouse's novel The Small Bachelor, is definitely a festive way to spend one of Seattle's increasingly cold winter nights.
Set in 1927 Greenwich Village, Over the Moon spins a tale of a talent-free artist named George Finch and the hurdles he ends up having to clear to wed his beloved, Molly Waddington. Molly's mother, Mrs. Waddington (a grande dame in the tradition of Margaret Dumont of the Marx Brother films) violently opposes the union of the pair, and her husband Sigsbee is a veritable old cowhand from the Rio Grande with a penchant for mild larceny. In Finch's corner are his pal Hamilton Beamish and his ex-con valet Mullet. Also in the mix are an aspiring poet cop, Mullet's pickpocket lady friend, Beamish's fortune-teller intended (who has had a "past" with Finch), and the Waddington's wry butler Ferris. This character driven tale starts rather demurely and spins fairly successfully into slapstick in act two.
Director David Ira Goldstein's spirited staging keeps Dietz's script percolating, but it is really his splendid cast of veteran Seattle actors that endows Over the Moon with an extra comic glow. R. Hamilton Wright is ideal as the likable sad-sack Finch, and Liz McCarthy is adorable as his wary fiancée Molly. Suzy Hunt could play the hoity-toity Mrs. Waddington in her sleep, but instead operates on all burners, while Ken Ruta is a howl as her boisterous spouse. Robert Guajardo and Julie Briskman are a match made in comedy heaven as the Damon Runyonesque Mullet and his light fingered lady love Fanny, while Bob Sorenson and Kirsten Potter score in the less flamboyant roles of Beamish and Madame Eulalie.
Top comic honors are reserved, however, for David Pichette, whose timing and facial expressions as butler Ferris would surely make the late P.G. Wodehouse smile, and Jeff Steitzer as Officer Garroway, whose sneezing shtick alone was worth catching the show for as he proves that vaudeville humor is still alive and well.
Add to the above a perfectly executed set by Scott Weldin, John McLain's accomplished lighting design, and David K. Micklesen's handsome costumes, and you have a show that looks as good as it plays and should prove a welcome alternative to audiences who find all the ho-ho-ho shows a bit ho-hum. Over the Moon runs through December 6 at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 1st & Mercer at Seattle Center. For further information visit the Seattle Rep's website at www.seattlerep.org.- David-Edward Hughes