Front Row Center
By Michael Warren
Created by Dave McIntosh
Directed by Paul Kloegman
This was a fun Christmas entertainment, loosely based on the British pantomime tradition. From the outset, Paul Kloegman as “Buttons” involved the audience and told us what to do. Participate! Boo and hiss whenever the evil “Baroness Hard-Up” (sneeringly played by Patricia Guy) appears on stage! Forget the fourth wall, boys and girls, this is your time to join in and have fun. The dialogue is lewd and suggestive in Benny Hill style, and there are some terrible puns. You can groan if you feel like it, or laugh loudly, or just turn your hearing aid down.
Anyway, everyone (including the cast) had a good time. The pianist (Rodrigo Leal) did a great job, and evidently joined the cast at the last minute. He’s a talented young man, originally a Viva Musica scholarship recipient and now studying music in Guadalajara. The chorus numbers were well performed – I particularly enjoyed the “Cinderella Rag” which opened and closed the show. Also the cabaret during the Prince Charming ball was very entertaining, with Amaranta Santos doing a steamy number “Hot Stuff” and Neil Diamond (aka Dana Douin) dropping by from Las Vegas.
An energetic and sometimes wacky cast kept the show moving along. Amaranta Santos was a sad Mexican “Sinderella,” while Ann Loebach and Wendy Peterson were suitably nasty as the Ugly Sisters “Loosy” and “Goosy.” In a true British pantomime, these two would be played by men with hairy legs. Fred Koesling added another feather to his cap as “Baron Hard-Up,” and our regal hosts were Peter Luciano and Catherine Gonzales. Gabriel Casillas was charming as “Prince Charming” who is in want of a wife, and Greg Clarke was good with his clothes on as the prince’s sidekick “Dandini.”
Then there was the Good Fairy “Gossamer” hilariously hammed up by Rob Stupple, who also sang “Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s Old.” Sad, but true. Other Servants and chorus members included Connie Davis, Jutta McAdam, Margaret Presutti, Judy McKinnon, Graham Miller and Garry Peerless. Choreography was by Heather Hunter, who also danced along as a Goblin with Allyson de Jong and Catherine Huff, while Abril Iniguez appeared at the ball as the magically transformed Sinderella. It’s refreshing to see new and young Mexican talent on the LLT stage.
Stage Manager for this complex performance was Win McIntosh, and Sandy Jakubek was Assistant Stage Manager. Music direction was handled by Ann Swiston – as a song and dance show it was good entertainment, though for some reason it was sometimes hard to hear all the lines, particularly with the piano on stage. Paul Kloegman, who is a professional comedian, directed the whole thing and kept the laughs coming. And a lot of credit for the evening’s entertainment goes to Dave McIntosh, who came up with the idea, created the show and wrote all the lyrics (including the ghastly puns). As a good friend said, “It’s a load of rubbish, and a lot of fun!”
Next up is “Wrong Turn at Lungfish,” a dark comedy which opens on January 16. Directed by Peggy Lord Chilton, the cast includes Kenneth Bridges, Beryel Dorscht, Tina Leonard, and Ken Yakiwchuk.