CHATHAM, NJ – Once again, playwright Ken Ludwig is having a New Jersey moment. His fast-paced comedy "Moon Over Buffalo" from 1995 is receiving a rip roaring production by the Chatham Players.
The plot centers on a theatrical couple, George and Charlotte Hay, who spend most of their careers touring smaller cities throughout the area. So we hear references to Rochester and Schenectady and other ports of call.
They’re in the midst of alternating “Cyrano de Bergerac” with “Private Lives,” which in itself calls for costume complications and mayhem.
David Romankow is ideal as the blustering husband, especially in his Act II drinking scenes. Stacey Petricha is his wife, who has her own dreams of fame and fortune. Her exasperation at her husband’s antics is most convincing, not to mention her many regrets about childbirth. Their daughter, Rosalind, has given up the stage for a more secure life in advertising. Tess Ammerman does a stunning quick change when she becomes Sybil in a scene from Noel Coward’s “Private Lives.”
Meryl Nadell is priceless as Ethel, Charlotte’s mother. She usually can’t hear what’s going on so mixes up “hearing aid” with “lemonade” and manages to confuse making coffee with Irish coffee.
Rosalind has a fiancé, Howard, played with sheepish demeanor by Brendan Scullin. Somehow Charlotte confuses him with the director Frank Capra. Then we have Thom Boyer as Paul, Tess’s former boyfriend and the company stage manager. Lewis Decker is Richard, a lawyer who tries to convince Charlotte to leave George and go off with him. Julie Anne Nolan plays Eileen, a young actress who has announced she is pregnant.
Everyone has foibles and temptations as the story becomes more and more outlandish. Yes, there are slamming of doors and mistaken identities along the way. Chatham’s black box theatre has been converted to a proscenium stage for this production, which works quite well for the farce. Andrea Sickler is the scenic designer, with set design by Roy Pancirov and Bob Lukasik.
Tom Frascatore has directed the play with terrific pacing and, as they say, it’s all in the timing. Christina Kirk’s costumes are lots of fun, from Cyrano’s long nose and floppy hat to a General Patton uniform and a host of frivolous touches.
You’re in for a riotous evening, with never a dull moment, enhanced by sharp, funny dialogue and all of it brought off with flair. “Moon over Buffalo” continues through March 11 at The Chatham Playhouse, 23 North Passaic Ave. in Chatham. For tickets, call 973-635-7363 or visit chathamplayers.org.
Liz Keill reviews professional theatre in the New Jersey area, ranging from the McCarter Theatre in Princeton to Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn. In addition to writing for Tapinto.net, she does theatre analysis for HometowneTV in Summit. She holds a Bachelor's in Journalism from Penn State and a Master's in Communication from Syracuse University. Liz is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, which holds seminars at regional theatres across the country as well as in New York City.
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