Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Also see Bill's review of Breadcrumbs
The fun begins with Man in the Basement by Arlene Hutton and directed by Cory Boyas. A wife and her sister have belatedly discovered that there is a man living in their basement and he has been there for a quite a while. The husband arrives home to help face this crisis. The director clearly set the action in New York and Andrea Dovner as the Wife had the New York shrewish demeanor down perfectly. She was backed by Liz Pascoe as her sister, who deserves an award for stepping into the role two days before opening night and being almost completely off book and great in the part. Rodd Dyer, a favorite from ever so many roles at Manatee Players (Hysterium in A Funny Thing ... and one of the boys in Pump Boys and Dinettes being a couple of my favorites) continued his traversal of so many beleaguered men. Finally, Michael DeMocko, also well loved from Manatee Players productions, made a cameo as the man who has been living in the basement. More about Mr. DeMocko's talents later.
Mark My Worms by Cary Pepper and directed by David Nields was up next. This is a backstage comedy about a director and his cast trying to rehearse a newly discovered play by a well regarded absurdist playwright. The play is itself somewhat absurdist in nature with multiple levels of insanity to cope with. Ross Boehringer has shown himself a fine farceur in the past, most memorably a couple of years ago in a fine production of Lend Me a Tenor. He delivered a superb performance as Mason, the frustrated male actor who comes to the point where he can longer battle the craziness of his female co-star and director, at which point Boehringer got even better, losing any semblance of knowing what is happening around him. This was a great comic performance. Valen McDaniel was fine as director John and Ana Maria Larson as Gloria showed why she has a very strong acting resume on stage and in Spanish soap operas.
After intermission was the premiere production of Galoshes by Robert Brophy, directed by Cory Boyas. Martin, engagingly played by Michael DeMocko lives with his mother, played by Betty Robinson. The weekend has arrived and Martin wants to go out in search of some romantic adventure. Mom is expecting a cousin and his long time "friend" and another, younger female cousin, Pam, played by Katy McBrayer. Ms. Robinson has proven her worth in several previous Starlite Players outings, as one of a stable of fine female actresses available for these "mom" roles. She was delightfully wacky here, telling her son to always remember to wear his galoshes when searching for romance. Unfortunately, Starlite Players' stage is simply not large enough to fully exploit Mr. DeMocko's talents, he is a sensational dancer. I have been privileged to see his star turns as Bobby in Crazy for You and Albert in Bye Bye Birdie. I plan never to miss him in a staring role in the future. I am glad to see him stretching himself, testing his comedy skills. Katy McBrayer showed why Martin might stay back to see his long lost cousin, she is winsome and charming.
Lastly was Putt-putt by George Sapio and directed by Louise Stinespring with assistance by John Stinespring. Set in a conference room after an important advertising presentation, Jeff, played by Ross Boehringer, is the lead on the campaign, excited that it has gone well. Brian, played by Mark Shoemaker, and Debra, played by Diana Shoemaker, are not so sure. In fact, Brian is packing his things to quit. Their boss Dexter, played by John Durkin, brings news that the potential buyers are delighted. Now all hell breaks lose as the personalities, kept in check for a harmonious working environment, come apart. Mr. Boehringer again brought his terrific comic skills center stage, but this role was simply not as great a fit as the other one. Mr. and Mrs. Shoemaker projected the chemistry of two people who have worked alongside each other for years, kind of not surprising for a long married couple. I always enjoy when they trot the boards; I have a strong personal memory of Mr. Shoemaker as Elwood P. Dowd in a long ago production of Harvey. Mr. Durkin's role was thankless, underwritten.
I have made it no secret that I enjoy The Starlite Players. I am pleased that it gives these local performers a different sort of space to work in and a chance to stretch. For anyone who has not sampled The Starlite Players, please let me urge you to do so, as their productions are always lots of fun.
Social Savvy played through August 21, 2016, presented by The Starlite Players at The Starlite Room, 1001 Cocoanut Avenue, Sarasota, FL. For more information, visit www.starliteplayers.com.