1st Stage Suite SurrenderBy Laura & Mike Clark • Sep 17th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
1st Stage Theater, McLean, VA
Through October 14th
Reviewed September 16th, 2012
1st Stage opened their 2012-2013 season with playwright Michael McKeever’s extremely humorous farce Suite Surrender. Two sworn enemy singing divas end up in the same suite at a posh Florida hotel. Their assistants, the hotel manager, even the bellhops try their best to keep the two singers apart. And for extra measure, a nosy gossip columnist is looking for a scoop, while a society matron is trying to be helpful. The production’s rapid fire timing and physicality make Suite Surrender a show not to be missed.
The two singers, Claudia McFadden (Farrell Parker) and Athena Sinclair (Katie Nigsch-Fairfax), make quite a pair. McFadden is bossy, arrogant, rude, sarcastic, and obnoxious. Sinclair is all these things except obnoxious, but add in horny. And the two have not yet figured out they are in the same suite! Each of their scenes was excellent, as they grappled with broken expectations and frustrations at the frequent visits by the hotel staff to the suite. When the two women finally discover they are sharing the suite, the fireworks are as surprising as they are expected.
The two overworked, abused, and underpaid assistants to Ms. McFadden and Ms. Sinclair also gave stellar performances. Murphy, Ms. Sinclair’s secretary was played by Stephanie Roswell. Roswell performed both solidly as well as believably. Ms. McFadden’s assistant Mr. Pippet had the added humiliation of also having to care for the star’s rat dog, Mr. Boodles. Bradley Foster Smith has mastered the art of playing whipped dog. His character was so uptight a sneeze would have undone him. Smith had a hilarious bit when the “dog” seemed to look at everything and even move around Mr. Pippet’s head and body when Mr. Pippet tried to leave the suite. The two bellhops Francis Daniel Corey) and Otis (Sam Phillips) also added the right combination of falling, flinging, and flying (well, the dog did anyway) to keep the performance moving along. The two tried hard to please while being utterly confused by the mania of the two singing nightmares.
Freaked out, stressed out, and maxed out Hotel Manager Bernard S. Dunlap was the glue that kept the plates spinning as one disaster after another occurred in the hotel. Matt Dougherty kept his composure no matter what happened, including a tricky flower vase that had a tendency to fall over while he was adding flowers to it. Through it all, Dougherty rallied and was essential in keeping the pace moving smartly along. His inability the get the bellhop’s names right only added to his charm.The President of the of the Palm Beach Ladies for Unity, Mrs. Everett P. Osgood gave an over the top, yet believable, performance. Played by Lis Hodsoll, Ms. Osgood used big sweeping gestures and grand movements to make the audience laugh. Lastly gossip columnist Dora Del Rio played by Nora Achrati was a treat. She not only pegged the characteristics of a nosy reporter, but her hat’s choreography with Dunlap was masterful.
The entire cast was engaging and seemed absorbed in the happenings on the set even when not the focal point of the action. Not only was the fight choreography by Casey Celeba performed expertly, but the gorgeous set itself was well designed by Steven Royal. Dan Iwaniec’s costumes were fabulous, the blue dresses worn by the divas contrasted nicely with everyone else on stage.
Suite Surrender was a hilarious show, with a lot of believability to the normally unbelievable situations that occur in a farce. Come to 1st Stage to be absolutely entertained and amused.
Photos by C. Stanley Photography
- Bernard S. Dunlap: Matt Daugherty
- Claudia McFadden: Farrell Parker
- Athena Sinclair: Katie Nigsch-Fairfax
- Murphy Stevens: Stephanie Roswell
- Mr. Pippet: Bradley Foster Smith
- Nora Del Rio: Nora Achrati
- Mrs. Everett P. Osgood: Lisa Hodsoll
- Francis: Daniel Corey
- Otis: Sam Phillips
- Director: Rex Daugherty
- Lighting: Brian S. Allard
- Props: Deb Crerie
- Costumes: Dan Lwaniec
- Stage Manager: Keta Newborn
- Scenic Design: Steven Royal
- Program: Marty McGrane, Lynne Silverstein
- Fight Choreographer: Casey Celeba
Disclaimer: 1st Stage provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/8617.
Laura & Mike Clark 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.