Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Castaways Repertory Theatre Room Service

By • Oct 1st, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Room Service by John Murray & Allen Boretz
Castaways Repertory Theatre
A.J. Ferlazzo Building, Woodbridge, VA
Through October 15th
2:10 with two intermissions
$14/$11 Seniors and Students
Reviewed September 30th, 2011

Castaways Repertory Theatre opens its season with the 1937 John Murray & Allen Boretz comedy Room Service, which was later made into a Marx Brothers film. A play producer has moved his cast and crew into a Broadway hotel during rehearsals of tehir new play. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have funding for the play yet, so he is always worrying about money and trying to scam the hotel. One of his actresses finds a backer, which allows him to continue to rehearse the play. Everything is taken care of, at least until everything catches up with his schemes on opening night.

This lighthearted comedy never quite got its bearings as a rollicking fast-paced comedy until its third act. While there were a few funny scenes building to the climax, director Stephen Keane needed a bit more time with his cast to correct some problems with the show’s staging. For example, actors often upstaged each other, making it difficult to hear them as their lines were said to the upstage walls; during a couple of scenes (such as the doctor’s examination of Leo Davis) too much was happening on stage so the audience didn’t know what to watch; and actors using the telephone need to wait for the caller to speak instead of just speeding through their lines. There was a wonderfully performed scene in the third act where all the actors successfully burst into an uproar, yet didn’t pull focus from what the audience needed to see at that point.

Gordon Miller, the play’s producer and determined schemer, was portrayed by James McDaniel. McDaniel was focused but not too warm towards his co-conspirators, and appeared to struggle a bit with his lines at the start of the show. His best scenes were with hotel troubleshooter Mr. Wagner, played wonderfully by Troy Golson. Golson made Wagner to be a gullible tough guy, balancing his desires for a job promotion and doing the right thing. Hotel manager Joe Gribble was played by Sharif Foulks as a nice guy in over his head with the acting troupe. Foulks was occasionally hard to understand as he rushed through his lines. Playwright Leo Davis was played sincerely by Justin Janke, who nailed the naiveté of the Oswego native visiting the big city for the first time. And Brian Miller as director Harry Binion was effective portraying Binion as just one of the guys, familiar with Miller’s schemes yet not above contributing his own ideas to make the play a success.

Sabrina Chandler and Claudia Tameris’s costumes looked amazing, from Sasha Smirnoff’s maid outfit to the hoop skirt worn by actress Christine Marlowe (Chardonee Harris). For the technical aspects of Room Service, Castaways again made do with what they could within the limits placed on them by the facility. Gavin Tameris’ set of a hotel room was functional (despite one bed that looked ready to collapse at any moment), and it could have used a bit more color or elegance. K. Goins-Williams and Stacy King’s lights were utilitarian, again something the facility puts extreme limits on customizing.

In sum, Room Service was engaging and funny at points; its uneven presentation could have used a bit more polish on the rough edges.


  • Sasha Smirnoff: Katy Chmura
  • Mr. Wagner: Troy Golson
  • Harry Binion: Brian Miller
  • Ms. Hogarth: Lynn Lacey
  • Leo Davis: Justin Lanke
  • Miss Jenkins: Sallie Willows
  • Hilda Manney: Melissa Purvis
  • Christine Marlowe: Chardonee Harris
  • Mr. Gribble: Sharif Folks
  • Senator Blake: Libby Huguley
  • Dr. Glass: Gavin Tameris
  • Bank Messenger: Lynn Toole
  • Faker Englund: Jordan Mathalon
  • Gordon Miller: James McDaniel


  • Director: Stephen Keane
  • Front of House: Karla Carias & Kathryn Sahlberg
  • Stage Manager: Samantha Reau
  • Sound: Becky Farris & Richard Prien
  • Set: Gavin Tameris
  • Lights: K Goins-Williams & Stacey King
  • Producer: Zina Blek
  • Costumes: Sabrina Chandler & Claudia Tameris
  • Stage Crew: Richard Prien
  • Props: Karla Carias, Katy Chmura, Pat Jannell, Sallie Willows
  • Photographer: Jim Jenkins
  • Set Design: Gavin Tameris
  • Set Construction: Nyeem Braxton, Andrew Buning, Andy Kauffman, Richard Prien, Gavin Tameris

Disclaimer: Castaways Repertory Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. Also, note that Laura will be stage managing Castaways’ Winter show, “The Taming of the Shrew.”

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