Friday, July 22, 2011

“Moon Over Buffalo” Bowls Over Crowds in Chula Vista

By Kristen Fogle

Done a variety of times in numerous spaces and cities, “Moon Over Buffalo” is an old favorite for many. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a piece about a simpler time, the good old 1950s, when things were pure and easy. When men were men and women were women. When things were uncomplicated and unpretentious. You know, when gals left their husbands for the family lawyer and fathers impregnated girls their daughter’s age...

Wait, what?

“Moon Over Buffalo” may be set in a more wholesome time, but for first timers to this much loved classic, the drama is not quite so squeaky clean. The show, set on and backstage at the Erlanger Theater in Buffalo, New York, commences when Rosalind comes to visit her parents, thespians George and Charlotte Hay, a couple that (regrettably, particularly to Charlotte) never quite made the big time, while they are performing reparatory theater. Rosalind arrives so as to announce her engagement to Howard, an enchanting, but slightly goofy weather man. While there the action unfolds: George has knocked up a young actress in the play, Charlotte’s mother is driving George crazy, Charlotte may run away with the family lawyer, Rosalind’s old flame Paul is working at the theater…it all comes to a head when George gets a call about a big time Hollywood-er who wants to see the night’s performance so as to determine whether to cast him in a movie. But when George gets drunk and the cast gets their play wrong, all hell breaks loose and George and Charlotte’s shot at the big time becomes a bit complicated.

It’s a whirlwind of who-will-end-up-with-who, quick wit, and zany energy in this well acted, classic farce. Laura Kaplan-Nieto (Charlotte Hay), besides being drop dead gorgeous, boasts roles in classics such as “Antony and Cleopatra” and “Henry V,” but she has the comic timing and vigor perfect for Buffalo. Charles Peters (George Hay) not only plays a drunk effortlessly, but commands the stage with his delivery and by making use of the well thought out blocking. James P. Darvas (Paul) has a vivaciousness that complements George’s sometimes dry sense of humor well, and he is paired suitably with adorable Alyssa Anne Schechter (Rosalind) who also lights up the stage. The other characters add charisma and energy, and attention to the set as well as the gorgeous costumes (I would wear any one of the dresses in this show!) made this play a delight to watch. Playhouse’s long stage and rectangular room tend to make the space seem a bit claustrophobic, especially since they are packed, even on Sunday, but the company makes do with what they’ve got and manages to put on killer performances such as this one. (Oh, and the space will be undergoing a facelift, which I’m looking forward to.)

For an old favorite made fresh with a vibrant and talented cast, “Moon Over Buffalo” will be playing through August 13, 2011 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.

OnStage Playhouse
 291 Third Avenue
Chula Vista, CA
(619) 422-7787

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