Front Row Center
By Michael Warren
By Gary Richards
Directed by Paul Kloegman
Gary Richards has created a play that is tailor-made for community theater, and for older actors and audiences. “Reginald Herring” is a widower, and he decides to sell his New York home, pack up and move to a retirement community in Florida which he describes as “God’s Waiting Room.” The theme of the play is that life goes on, and romance is always possible even or perhaps especially when one is older. The “joke” is that poor bewildered Reginald is pursued by several women, simply because he’s alive and available. Shades of Ajijic!
Richard Miller plays Reginald with some skill. It’s a big part and he’s onstage throughout. I felt that there could have been more character development, though he doesn’t have too many interesting lines. Richard is a newcomer to LLT (though not to the stage) and we were lucky to have him available for this play. His very attractive neighbor “Sheila Haskett” is well played by Florette Schnelle who has a lot of fun being the femme fatale next door. She entices Reginald with casseroles and golf lessons, and he has a hard time keeping his eye on the ball!
Meanwhile he is also taking piano lessons from “Bev Perkins” who is caricatured by Mary Hunt with a weird southern accent. Mary is a really good actor, as we saw earlier this season in Outside Mullingar – here she throws caution to the wind, and the audience appreciated her crazy performance.
Reginald’s best friends in New York are “Ernie Cabella” and his wife “Doris” who are played by Greg Clarke and Judy Long. Ernie is delightfully outspoken and disgusting, and Greg lights up the stage whenever he appears. Unfortunately the author kills him off in the first Act, though he has some entertaining cameo appearances as a ghost in Act Two.
After Ernie’s death, Doris comes down to Florida for a visit with Reginald and tries to revive a long-ago moment when he kissed her one summer evening. Judy Long does a good job as Doris, and is sadly sweet when Reg rejects her for the sexy woman next door. Doris was too nice for her own good. Though it’s probably not in the play as written, I would have liked to hear glasses smashed offstage.
The blocking and the set design were ingenious. Paul Kloegman moved the play along with professional smoothness, and we knew exactly where we were as the characters moved around the stage. The lighting had to be spot on – well done, Garry Peerless and Rick Bleier. The sound cues worked perfectly, and we really thought there were two pianos being played on stage. Congratulations to Karen Lee on sound. Win McIntosh, as Stage Manager, kept everything on track backstage.
So ends Season 52, with a light comedy that our audiences enjoyed. Front Row Center will be back in the fall with an overview of the plans for Season 53.
MICHAEL WARREN Column: Front Row Center Website: Michael Warren grew up in London, England and lived on Baker Street very close to where Sherlock Holmes hung out his shingle. He graduated with an Honors degree in Mathematics from King’s College, Cambridge, which no doubt helps him to balance his check book. While a student, he edited a humorous magazine entitled “ffobia” which was widely circulated amongst his friends.
Michael moved to Ajijic in 2000. Since moving to Mexico, Michael has forgotten almost all his mathematics, and has taught English to Mexican students, assisted in promoting musical events, helped to found the Open Circle group, and published his book of poems “A Particular Blue.” In short, he has found happiness. He has appeared onstage in nine plays at the Lakeside Little Theatre. For the last ten years, he has been writing the theater reviews for El Ojo Del Lago under the byline “Front Row Center.”
Column: Front Row Center
Michael Warren grew up in London, England and lived on Baker Street very close to where Sherlock Holmes hung out his shingle. He graduated with an Honors degree in Mathematics from King’s College, Cambridge, which no doubt helps him to balance his check book. While a student, he edited a humorous magazine entitled “ffobia” which was widely circulated amongst his friends.