Monday, April 18, 2011

theatre review- THE FOX ON THE FAIRWAY - George St. Playhouse April 16

Playwright Ken Ludwig had back to back hits in the late 1980's and early 1990's with his hit play Lend Me a Tenor and his book for the Broadway musical Crazy For You.  He was nominated for Tony's for both.

I really like Lend Me a Tenor and his book for the musical Crazy For You, so I was looking forward to seeing another Ludwig farce.  His latest play, Fox on the Fairway debuted last Fall at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of D.C. and is now finishing up a run at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ.   The run has been so successful that an additional week of performances have been added, with performances now concluding this coming Saturday, April 23.

At George St, the play stars Broadway vets Peter Scolari, Michael Mastro and Mary Testa.  Scolari and Mastro are rival country club managers and the play takes place during the annual golf club tournament where Scolari's club, Quail Valley, have lost the four previous years to Mastro's club, the Crouching Squirrels.  The rivalry is so fierce that Mastro eggs on Scolari to wager $100,000 and his wife's antique shop on the game, which only adds to the tension that the hilarious hijinks create. Scolari thinks he can't lose this year as he has a ringer on his team, but of course Mastro has just convinced that player to play on his team instead, something that Scolari doesn't find out until after the bet has been placed.  Testa is Scolari's suffering and sufferable wife, a battle ax of a woman.  After a somewhat humorous but not exactly rip-roaring 40 minutes, Testa comes on about 2/3 of the way into act one and finally raises the play to the heights of Ludwig's former gems.  Testa has always been great in every show I've seen her in, and in Fox and the Fairway, she simply has to give a look to get a laugh.

Mastro, Hohn and Scolari
With a small cast of six, everyone is given plenty of moments to shine and contribute to the craziness.  Scolari and Mastro are more than up to what is required of them.  As is usual in these types of comedies, there is plenty of moments with the characters running around, even at one point tossing an expensive vase around between them, as well as perfectly timed entrances and exits where the characters just miss out on seeing or hearing some important fact or moment.  Though there is not so much of the slamming doors that are typical in farces in Fairway, as the doors in this play are more of the swinging variety- which was a nice touch. 

The remainder of the cast is played by Reggie Gowland and Lisa McCormick as the young couple in love who both are a little clueless to the world around them.  Both end up having hidden talents that contribute to the thrust of the play as well as some secrets that are revealed during the course of the play as well.  Amy Hohn is perfect as the treasurer of Scolari's club and ex-wife of Mastro.  She is sweet and sexy when needed to be, and teams up with Scolari nicely to get back at both of their current or former spouses.

For a farce, the play takes a little time to warm up to the hilarity- not sure if that is due to the cast, the direction or Ludwig, or a combination of all three.  The second act is definitely better than the first, with multiple payoffs on all of the plot elements.   And, while there are the typical surprises that come with a zany farce like this, my favorite one was the surprise that Michael Anania's set gave us toward the end of act two- it even got a nice bit of applause from the audience.

If you're looking for a humorous night out, get to New Brunswick before this closes next Saturday.

Official site

Amazon link for the paperback of Lend Me a Tenor

George St "trailer" -

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