2nd Star Productions The Dinner PartyBy Courtney Ferguson • Sep 13th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
2nd Star Productions
Bowie Playhouse, Bowie, MD
Through September 19th
1:55, with one intermission
Reviewed September 12th, 2009
Director Charles W. Maloney has put together a very charming production of Neil Simon’s The Dinner Party. Led by an extremely talented cast, The Dinner Party is an exploration of love and broken relationships. Six guests are invited to a dinner party at a fancy French restaurant. The first three guests are men, and shortly after their arrival, realizing they have never met, they soon discover they have one thing in common. All three men had the same lawyer who handled their divorces. Putting their heads together they figure out that the next three guests are going to be women. To that degree they are correct, but the surprise comes when the women turn out to be their former lovers and wives.
Claude Pichon (David O’Brien) was the first of the dinner guests to arrive. O’Brien gave a very mellow yet effective performance, never trying too hard to force the comedy. His tall demeanor and commanding voice made him hard to miss. Steve Rosenthal as Albert Donay was hilarious. Clumsy and a bit dim witted, Albert worked for a rental car lot, and had an unusual fascination with painting abstract pictures of used cars. Rosenthal never missed a beat in his performance, he had a great sense of comedic timing as well as physical comedy. To further add some spunk to the mix, in comes Andre Bouville (Jerry Khatcheressian) a feisty tailor whos pompous attitude rubs Albert and Claude the wrong way.
The fourth dinner guest is Mariette Levieux (Heidi Toll) who turns out to be Claude’s former wife. Toll played Mariette with grace, but able and willing to fight back to Claude’s vengeful attacks. Amongst the growing madness, in comes Yvonne Fouchet (Joanne Bauer). Yvonne was wholesome and quirky and somewhat awkward. It was a hilarious moment in the show as she reenacted her ex husband’s fury. Flaring her nostrels, scrunching her face, and making animal like gestures. On the outside she seemed somewhat foolish, but the audience soon discovered how profound she is as the play progressed. Completely opposite of Yvonne, in comes Gabrielle Buonocelli (Heather Tuckfield). She was rambunctious and sexy, always willing to speak her mind. She came off as being flashy and haughty on the outside, but shares the same profoundness as Yvonne, as we discover who she really is.
Strong characterization from the cast gave fuel to this performance. Each character was so distinctly different from one another that they ended up balancing each other. The action was orchestrated beautifully by director Charles W. Maloney. From the blocking to the delivery of lines, there was just a great sense of balance which is the key to making a comedic piece such as this flow with ease. The cast was very capable at playing comedy, but able to tone it down for the more serious and heartfelt moments which made this show so meaningful. There are plenty of good one liners in Neil Simon’s writing that make you laugh, but also make you think at the same time.
My very special thanks to the cast and crew for getting this wonderful production on the boards. This is a somewhat unique Neil Simon Comedy in that it explores personal relationships in a more serious manner than most of his fair. Simon is one of the greatest contemporary American playwrights, and if this production succeeds, the audience will be discussing it well after the curtain. Thank you for joining us.
-Charles W. Maloney
- Gabrielle Buonocelli: Heather Tuckfield
- Yvonne Fouchet: Joanne Bauer
- Mariette Levieux: Heidi Toll
- Claude Pichon: Dave O’Brien
- Andre Bouville: Jerry Khatcheressian
- Albert Donay: Steven Rosenthal
- Director: Charles W. Maloney
- Producer: Jane B. Wingard
- Stage Manger/Properties: Joanne D. Wilson
- Set Designer/Scenic Artist: Jane B. Wingard
- Set Construction: Steve Andrews
- Lighting/Sound Design: Garrett R. Hyde
- Lighting/Sound Technician: Pete Dursin, Al Chopey
- Costumes: The Cast
- Load in Crew: Garret Hyde, Pete Dursin, Al Chopey, Duane Rouch, Steve Andrews, Jane Wingard, Marty Hayes, Joanne Wilson, Bill Davis, Stevie Mangum, Matt Andrews, Dick Russell
- Publicity: Lynne Wilson, Beth Schultz, Jane Wingard
- Webmaster: Lynne Wilson
- House and Concession Manager: Jane Wingard
- Usher Coordinator: Jane Wingard
- Reservations: Jane Wingard
- Reservations Assistants: Gerry Verrier, Patti Mangum
- Photography: Jane Wingard, Joanne Wilson, Charles W. Maloney
- Program: Lynne Wilson
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/4148.
Courtney Ferguson is currently a student in the theatre arts program at Howard University pursuing a B.F.A in acting. Her plans are to go on to grad school to study Voice and Speech. Her credits include work on and off the stage, and she can be seen in the upcoming production of The Laramie Project with the Providence Players.