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Providence Players Waiting In the Wings

By • Oct 14th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Waiting In the Wings, by Noel Coward
Providence Players
James Lee Community Center Theater, Falls Church, VA
Through October 23rd
2:45 with one intermission
$18/$15 Seniors and Students
Reviewed October 10, 2010

Waiting in the Wings is a play in three acts by Noel Coward. It shares the life struggles of a group of elderly ladies, all retired actresses, living in a retirement home in England. Each of the ladies deals with their twilight years in her own way, ranging from acceptance to fear and dread. And some with not a care in the world.

This play took some getting used to. It was a large ensemble cast so sorting out the character’s names went out the window and you ended up just enjoying the action on stage. Although there was not a whole lot of action, when it did happen it had a purpose and was meaningful. The Christmas Party in Act III brought a much-needed jolt as the you could see the beauty and joy in their pasts. Much of the first act was sorting out the personalities of the ladies and learning about their past lives in the theater. Lines were delivered smoothly with perhaps some hesitation. The second act seemed to flow much much quickly, although the sedate natures of the ladies made the play appar to be tedious. Everyone seemed more comfortable on stage and the pacing was delivered with skill.

One of the ladies who was in her own world quite literally was Sarita, a resident played by Kate Blackburn. Blackburn was such a joy to watch on stage, with her innocence being simultaneously uplifting and saddening. Her final curtain brought tears to many in the audience (including Laura’s).

Although thirty year rivals, May and Lotta played by Providence Players veterans Mona Kay Helper and Kate Brown Pernia came on stage separately. One ready to let bygones be bygones and the other ready to take her grudge to the grave. Helper’s anger was evident in her tone and manners. Brown was much more laid back resigned to life in a “charity home.” Although both were comfortable on stage together when they settled their differences both were more relaxed and at home, with a visible friendship between them.

Of the four male characters, all of which played their supporting roles well, Perry, the Secretary stood out. Perry, played by Bobby Welsh, had a great believable scene with the ladies in the second act. Welsh’s realistic portrayal of his sorrow and pain when he tries to keep the ladies out of the newspaper was sincere. Also outstanding was Joseph Le Blanc as the lovestruck Osgood, who regularly visits an actress at the home whom he has been in love with for 60 years.

The Superintendent, Sylvia “Archie” Archibald played by Amy Maguire, kept the ladies in line with her good humor and military precision. Maguire never allowed her character to slip into an object of ridicule, but maintained a sense of concern for her charges.

The set designed by Patrick David was detailed and tastefully done to reflect an English country home. And Jayne Victor’s set decoration was appropriate to the period. Robbie Snow’s costumes were conservative and varied enough to allow each character to define their own style.

This is truly an enjoyable play, despite a few slow spots.

Director’s Note

If you have come to see a traditional Noel Coward romping love affair with mixed up marriages, lots of drinking, smoking, eating chocolate and getting drunk, you have come to the wrong play. If you have come to see a group of lovely ladies in the twilight of their lives, find meaning and moments and magic, then sit back, relax, and enjoy this gentle ride.

Noel Coward wrote this play in 1960 as a tribute to th theater, the women in it and to recognize that there is life after theater profession. there are connections to be made and there are challenges to be addressed. For some of the ladies, being in this “charity” home is difficult at best, and for others it is a joy and an adventure.

Coward has several plot devices that move the play forward. First being that the ladies, or “inmates” as they are referred to,want to have a solarium built so they can enjoy the outdoors without being in the outdoors. The “committee” members who run The Wings have different opinions about whether this is a matter of importance and if they should commit to the costs involved in building it. The other drama that propels the action forward is the arrival of Lotta Bainbridge. Her coming upsets May Davenport and we soon find that there has been a 30-year silence between the two-due to a man. This play is about friendships, aging, history, the young serving and caring for the elderly, love, healing, and ultimately how we step into the twilight of our lives with grace and dignity.

Noel Coward says, “I consider that the play as a whole contains, beneath the froth of some lighter moments, the basic truth that old age needn’t be nearly so dreary and sad as it is supposed to be, provided you greet it with humor and live it with courage.”

Beth Gilles-Whitehead, Director

Cast

  • Bonita: Carol Strachan
  • Cora: Angelena LeBlanc
  • Maud: Darla Robinson
  • May: Mona Kay Helper
  • Almina: Robin Ann Cartr
  • Estelle: Kathy White
  • Deirde: Cheryl Sinsabaugh
  • Perry: Bobby Welsh
  • Sylvia “Archie” Archibald: Amy Maguire
  • Osgood: Joseph LeBlanc
  • Lotta Bainbridge: Kate Brown Pernia
  • Dora: Doodie Brethhwaite
  • Doreen: Katie Brown
  • Sarita: Kate Blackburn
  • Zelda: Robin Zerbe
  • Dr. Jevons: Stuart Fischer
  • Alan Bennett: Dan Hobson
  • Topsy: Beth Hughes-Brown, Joyce Montgomery, Jean Holesak

Crew

  • Director: Beth Gilles-Whitehead
  • Assistant to the Director: Christian Faulkner
  • Producer: David Whitehead
  • Technical Director: Chip Gertzog
  • Technical Crew: Jimmy Gertzog
  • Stage Manager: Sarah Mournighan
  • Stage Crew: Annie Brown, Katie Brown
  • Set Design and Construction: Patrick David
  • Set Construction Crew: Kara Ahern, Tim Brown, John Coscia, Marie Custode, Christian Faulkner, Andrew Garland, Chip Gertzog, Jimmy Gertzog, Beth Gilles-Whitehead, Beth Harrison, Mona Kay Helper, Dan Hobson, Terri Hobson, Angelena LeBlanc, Becky McNair, Sarah Mournighan, Kate Pernia, Darla Robinson, David Schwartz, Gail Seavey, Audrey Suarez, Bob Timmerman, Jayne Victor, Bobby Welsh, Danine Welsh, Elise Welsh, John White, Kathy White, David Whitehead
  • Set Decoration: Jayne Victor
  • Set Decoration Team: Ali Zaikouk, Beckie McNair and Audrey Suarez
  • Properties Mistress: Terri Hobson
  • Properties Assistants: Nancy Fitzgerald, Nora Hayman, Carol Strachan
  • Costumes and Hair Design: Robbie Snow
  • Hair an Makeup Design: Beth Harrison
  • Dialect Coach: Nicolette Gianoli
  • House & Box Office Management: Mike Daze and Beverly Baughman
  • Playbill: Ellen Burns
  • Playbill Advertising: Jayne Victor
  • Photographer: Chip Gertzog
  • Publicity: Chip Gertzog

Disclaimer: Providence Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. Also be aware that earlier this year Mike redesigned the Providence Players web site.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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