Monday, January 4, 2016

theatre review - BEAU JEST - Hale Centre Theatre - December 31, 2015

Wade Peck, Laura Anne Kenney and Allyson Van Patten
photo: Nick Woodward-Shaw

Click here for more information on this production that runs through February 13th.

 "Overreaching, meddling parents and frustrated children who just want to be treated as adults are characters anyone can identify with; James Sherman's fitting comedy, Beau Jest, features these familiar characters in comical family situations and is a very funny crowd-pleaser of a play. Hale Centre Theatre's production of this romantic comedy is a delight, with perfect direction and a cast that delivers on the comedy...the play focuses on Sarah Goldman...Sarah's parents want her to marry a nice Jewish boy but she is in love with the appropriately named gentile Chris Cringle. Tired of her parent's relentless attempts to fix her up with someone they believe is appropriate, Sarah hires a Jewish man from an escort service, Bob Schroeder, to fool and impress her parents as her boyfriend... Unfortunately, it turns out that Bob isn't actually Jewish... Hilarity ensues as Sarah, unable to get her parents off her back and still not ready to tell them about Chris, hires Bob for more family dinners, which only makes them continue to keep up their deceptive ways. When Bob finds himself falling for Sarah, things really get complicated.  Sherman's script does include a few corny one-liners but there are some very funny parts and a great heart at the center of the story...Director Jere Van Patten keeps the pacing fast and doesn't allow his cast's portrayals of the somewhat stereotypical characters to cross the line into caricature....As Sara, Laura Anne Kenney achieves the right balance between wanting to please her parents and being desperate to get them off her back so she can live her life the way she wants to live it...Aaron Blanco is perfect as Bob, with his expressive wide eyes instantly providing comic relief to the "role" he finds himself playing. Blanco seems to relish portraying an actor who is playing a surgeon....Blanco lets us see how Bob stumbles through the part he is playing while finding a family and a woman that he falls in love with. Blanco creates an honest and realistic portrayal of this very lovable man. Allyson Van Patten and Wayne Peck are hilarious as the loving, yet very opinionated, parents. They seem like a natural couple with their constant, hilarious bickering. Van Patten is simply superb....Peck is equally as good with his well-measured comical delivery of his lines, providing a few zingers...While Beau Jest may not be the greatest comedy ever written, it is still fresh and funny today even though it's been almost 25 years since its New York run. With a great cast, including expert turns by Blanco and Van Patten, solid direction and perfect creative touches, Hale Centre Theatre's production is instantly relatable to everyone who has ever had an overreaching parent or relative; the end result is a comic delight."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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