Hope you're enjoying this beautiful weather. I finally have my weekends back after touring with a children's show for the past nine months. Enough already!
Sometimes set designers drive me crazy. Case in point -- Michael Locher's incredible library/great room for Center Rep's current production of "Sleuth."
It's full of warm tones, a cozy fireplace and so many books and other eclectic items that I just wanted to move in and never leave. I actually did contemplate what floors and ceilings I could knock out in my own home to replicate this splendid dwelling where mystery writer Andrew Wyke pens his popular novels.
If you can manage to tear your eyes away from Locher's marvelous set and listen to Anthony Shaffer's clever repartee, you're in for a treat. A perfect balance of humor, sarcasm and danger keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. Just when you think you know what going to happen, Shaffer spins his tale in another direction to keep you on your toes.
The combined talents of actors Thomas Gorrebeeck (Milo Tindle) and Kit Wilder (Andrew Wyke) make Shaffer's subterfuge possible, not to mention highly entertaining.
Shaffer's intricate plot begins with Wyke inviting Tindle over for a chat on the premise he wishes to know his neighbor better. Of course, it soon comes out that Wyke knows all about the affair and wishes the young lovers well -- or does he?
The consummate spoiled child, Wyke lures Tindle into one game after another, alternating between gales of laughter and menacing actions. His character's active imagination allows Wilder to show his versatility as he careens from one impersonation to another.
Gorrebeeck, as the middle-class travel agent, also shows his considerable dexterity as he finds himself ensnared in the wealthy writer's nefarious plots.
Director Mark Anderson Phillips keeps the action fast and furious with the perfect balance of humor and terror. Kudos also go to prop master Shaun Carroll (I understand artistic director Michael Butler helped out as well) for the outrageous amount of period-perfect set decorations from pinball machines to sinister talking mannequins to the well-stocked bar and bookshelves.
For tickets to "Sleuth," which runs at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek through April 26, call 925-943-SHOW (925-943-7469) or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.
Onstage Theatre closed its second offering at the Martinez Campbell Theatre this past weekend.
I'm happy to report that it fared much better than the group's first endeavor in its new space.
Well-directed by Helen Means and John Allred, "Weekend Comedy" is just that -- a delightful comedy that tugs at your heartstrings.
Written by Jeanne and Sam Bobrick, it deals with a middle-age couple enjoying a rare weekend away. Peggy (portrayed with wonderful comedic timing by Claudia Gallup) hopes to rekindle some romance in their 33-year marriage while her husband Frank (a very funny Wayne McRice) worries about his business and complains about no TV or newspapers.
Just as Frank begins to feel amorous, a young couple (well done by Mya Brynn Guitron and Ryan Terry) walks in and the fireworks start. It seems the travel agent has double-booked the cabin.
As the two couples attempt to cohabit, issues of money, privilege and what makes a relationship work surface with often hilarious results.
The company's next offering is "Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont" running May 16-June 1.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925-350-9770.
What do you get when you combine a witch's curse, a haunted castle and a chorus of professional bridesmaids? Gilbert and Sullivan, of course.
Role Players Ensemble presents the duo's "Ruddigore," a screwball musical that takes place in a haunted castle. Anything is possible at the eccentric castle, including long-dead ancestors stepping out of their portraits to wreak havoc on the living.
Directed by Eric Fraisher Hayes with musical direction by Marianna Wolff, "Ruddigore" runs April 18-May 10, at the Village Theatre, 233 Front St. in Danville, with a special preview on April 17.
For information, call 925-820-1278 or go to www.roleplayersensemble.com.
Contact Sally Hogarty at email@example.com