Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Fauquier Community Theatre California Suite

By • Mar 1st, 2011 • Category: Reviews
California Suite by Neil Simon
Fauquier Community Theatre
Fauquier Community Theatre, Warrenton, VA
Through March 13th
2:35 with one intermission
$15/$13 Seniors and Students
Reviewed February 27th, 2011

California Suite is a comedy by Neil Simon. It is actually four different vignettes in five scenes which all take place in a suite of hotel rooms in California. One vignette has two scenes to mark the before and after of attending an Academy Awards ceremony. Each scene (except for the two Oscar scenes) was capable of standing on its own.

Overall this was not a bad production. The pacing was a little uneven and at times did drag. Some of this could be because the script itself has not aged well. Some of these situations in the 70’s were shocking, such as seeing someone in their boxers or panties. Today they celebrate boxers and panties by having a 1k run through the streets of DC. Homosexuality was only hinted at discreetly and today is taken in stride.

The couple in the first scene, Hannah and William Warren played by Penny McKee and Ian Wade, made good use of the stage by scouting out each other and spent most of the evening kind of sizing each other up. The second and fourth scenes took the slapstick approach with a man with a hung over hooker in his bed not wanting to be caught by his wife, and two couples who have spent far too much time together on what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation. The third vignette was the most serious, as a couple (Mona Kay Helper as Diana Nichols and Ian Wade again as a different character) headed out to the Oscars. This vignette also had the ingredients for a complete story, and had the most interesting plot developments.

Not to give too much away, but two of the scenes were composed of fairly solid slapstick elements. Sunday afternoon’s performance was a bit tentative, with a bit of hesitancy in the punches and kicks. By closing weekend I’m sure they will be knocking heads believably.

Set Designer Ted Ballard built a sturdy set. The bed itself was a bit small, but for the most of the afternoon you only had one person in the bed so it was not a big deal. The use of chairs to create the effect of a wall between the living room and bed room was creative and honored by the actors. The lighting by light designer Tim Kirk combined with the pastel hues of the walls made for some interesting combinations. Some places on the walls appeared to be the same color, while a few feet away the walls appeared to be different colors.

California Suite does contain strong language and sexual content, so is not recommended for children. Overall, the limits of the dated script will result in each audience member having to choose which scenes they will enjoy. Of the four sets of visitors, you should find at least two you will enjoy.


  • Hannah Warren: Penny McKee
  • William Warren: Ian Wade
  • Marvin Michaels: Daniel F. Purcell
  • Bunny: Hannah Marie Malinowski
  • Bunny (March 11, 12): Sallie Willows
  • Millie Michaels: Carolyn Cameron
  • Sidney Nichols: Ian Wade
  • Diana Nichols: Mona Kay Helper
  • Mort Hollender: Joe Bersack
  • Beth Hollender: Holly Czuchna
  • Stu Franklin: Bob Jordan
  • Gert Franklin: Nora Zanger


  • Director: Sallie Willows
  • Producer: Evelyn Rice
  • Stage Manager: Evelyn Rice
  • Costume Design: Susan Noe
  • Set Design: Ted Ballard
  • Set Construction: Patrick Nye
  • Set Painting: Evelyn Rice, Sallie Willows
  • Light Design: Tim Kirk
  • Sound Design: Tim Kirk
  • Properties: Evelyn Rice
  • Set Dressing: Susan Noe, Evelyn Rice, Sallie Willows
  • Hair Design: Hannah Ballinger
  • Make-Up Design: Cast
  • Combat Choreography: Kevin C. Robertson
  • Stage Crew: Haley Mulder
  • Light and Sound Board Operator: Tyler Treague
  • Publicity: Christie Clark
  • Box Office: Christie Clark
  • Posters and Postcards: Evelyn Rice
  • Programs: Evelyn Rice
  • House Manager: Evelyn Rice
  • Photography: Dianne King
  • Opening Night Reception: Laurie Bersack

Disclaimer: Fauquier Community Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. FCT also purchased advertising on the web site, which did not affect the opinions expressed in this review.

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