Saturday, July 25, 2009

Neil Simon Festival Awesome-Ness

Ok... I know it has been about six billion years since I've written any sort of blog, but it's because I've been very busy with rehearsals for the Neil Simon Festival. For those of you who don't know my wife Whitney and I have been participating in the shows at the Festival this summer and we just opened our season last week. I don't have a lot of time, but I want to take a few minutes to talk about the three shows at the Festival.

The first is called 'Last of the Red Hot Lovers'. I'm not in this play but my wife is, so I've had to opportunity to watch it several times. And to be completely honest with you, it is one of the funniest shows I have ever seen anywhere. It's a small cast of four, but the cast is extremely talented. The story is about a middle-aged man named Barney Cashman (played by Richard Bugg, the founder of the Neil Simon Festival.) who is going through a middle age crisis. Barney is trying desperately to join the sexual revolution of the seventies by having an affair for the first time. It's a play in three acts and each act is a different woman. What interests me most about this script is that Simon uses three very different styles of comedy in each act. So that no matter who you are there will be something for you to laugh at. (If you're like me you'll laugh at all three acts.) The three women are played by talented actresses: Susan Page Lane, Ellen Treanor, and (my personal favorite) Whitney Morgan Cox. All three women have created beautifully colorful characters that light up the stage. I honestly have nothing bad to say about this show. I highly recommend it.

The Second show is an American classic by Mary Chase: Harvey. (my wife and I are both in this one.) Most people are very familiar with this story because of Jimmy Stewart's Hallmark performance in the movie. Well, I haven't seen the movie yet, but let me tell you first off the Roger Dunbar's portrayal of Elwood P. Dowd is flawlessly adorable. From what I hear he has managed to avoid copying Jimmy Stewart but has still developed an incredibly interesting character. The story revolves around Elwood and his invisible friend Harvey... who also happens to be a rabbit... and six foot tall rabbit. Is Harvey real or not?

Lastly is Biloxi Blues. The second installment in Neil Simon's autobiographical trilogy is about Eugene's stint in the army. The play takes place at boot camp, and I must say that this entire cast is really incredible. Every so often a show comes along that you are truly proud to be a part of. Biloxi Blues is one of those shows. If you don't mind some PG-13 rated language I highly recommend this show.

This festival is so much fun all around. They've brought the chairs up on the stage so that the audience is really part of the story. you get to see the tears in the actors eyes and every little facial expression. It makes for a truly intimate theatre experience. Ticket prices are only a fraction of what the Shakespeare Festival will cost you, and I can humbly tell you that the performances are just as good. If you get a chance come support this young and growing festival. There are two shows a day everyday but Monday and Sunday. For more information visit And remember that the best way for poor people to support the arts is word of mouth. Most of us can't afford to make donations, but all of us can tell our friends about upcoming theatrical events.

Excuse and spelling or gramatical errors that may be in this blog, I don't have time to proof read. But I hope you get a chance to come check us out, and as they say on the poster: Come Laugh With Us!