Theatre Mirror Reviews - "ROMANTIC COMEDY"

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Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2017 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Newport Playhouse's first show of their 34th season is "Romantic Comedy" by Bernard Slade. The show is centered on Jason Carmichael, an arrogant, self centered and sharp tongued successful co-author of romantic comedies. He is faced with two momentous events: he supposed to marry a society belle and his collaborator is retiring. Enter mousey Phoebe Craddock who quickly becomes his new collaborator. Fame and success flourish for ten years and then Jason goes into a tailspin when his world is changed. Phoebe gets married and moves to Paris with her new journalist husband. But will Phoebe return to New York to get back together with Jason? And if so will it be happily ever after. Director Anne Mulhall casts these six roles wonderfully and elicits strong performances from her hard working performers.

The show is set in 1965, 75 and 77. Christian O'Brien is onstage for almost the whole show and does a bang up job in this huge role. He usually plays easy going characters but this time tackles the role of an unpleasant, cold uncaring egotist. The confrontation scenes with Phoebe crackle with electricity. One of his funniest moments occurs when he has a fling with one of his actresses and her dress is on backwards. Amy Corral does a terrific job as Phoebe who has an unrequited love for Jason. Her transition from plain Jane into a more sophisticated, worldly woman is handled excellently. Amy displays good comic timing during the show especially when she reveals a bad review in the NY Times, falling asleep on the sofa in Jason's lap and her banter with him in several scenes. Also topnotch is her crying scene that leaves you with a lump in your throat. Both Amy and Christian have enormous amounts of dialogue in this show. Playing the long suffering wife who doesn't enjoy theater as much as her husband, Jason is Valerie Vail as Allison. She first appears in a wedding dress and has some clever twists and turns to her character that surprise both the audience and Jason.

Michael Gregory is excellent in this dramatic role of Leo, the journalist who eventually marries Phoebe. His speech of always coming in second place is poignant and heartfelt. Ahnie Berl as the agent, Blanche has some of the best caustic one liners and put downs in the show. She reminds you of Bea Arthur in "Maude." Ahnie's costumes are fabulous. Rounding out the cast is Katherine Coolidge as the temperamental actress, Kate. Her snooty behavior is wonderful to behold and the dress shtick is hilarious. So for a thought provoking show with some laughs along the way, be sure to catch "Romantic Comedy" at Newport Playhouse. Enjoy an all you can eat buffet before the show and a fun filled, comic song fest with clever repartee in the cabaret after the show.

ROMANTIC COMEDY (17 February to 26 March)
Newport Playhouse, 102 Connell Highway, Newport, RI
1(401)848-7529 or

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