Sunday, April 30, 2006

opening-night review of *Laughter on the 23rd Floor*

So this actor walks into a theater wearing a bright orange beret. Other actor says, “What’s that on your head — a squashed pumpkin? Hey, I remember that hat — it’s mine. You stole it from me.” First actor says, “Obviously you’re out of your gourd.”
Which is a pretty lame joke. Which is the point.
If you’re going to put on a play about people who write one-liners for a living, and if their workday consists of setup/punch line/badda-bing-badda-boom, then you’d better put some zing in that badda-bing: The jokes have to be funny. In Interplayers’ production of *Laughter on the 23rd Floor,* sometimes the jokes are funny — and sometimes they’re not. Neil Simon’s affectionate sketch of water-cooler banter among the best the comedy writers of the 1950s is receiving an uneven production (through May 20).
The writers are just types — the rookie, the Russian, the woman, the fussbudget, the hypochondriac — and what’s worse, there’s not enough affection or interaction among them to bear out the conclusion’s emphasis on one big happy comedic family, the end of a historic era for television, and so on.
The second-act set piece — a spoof of the Marlon Brando movie version of Julius Caesar (no relation to Sid) — falls flat because it just isn’t very funny, either in the writing or in the execution. (Ha! Caesar gets execu … oh, never mind.) You can see how *Your Show of Shows* must’ve felt like really nonconformist stuff for the Eisenhower ‘50s, even how it paved the way, decades later, for *Saturday Night Live.* But quaint historical significance makes us smile with our lips together, not whoop with stuff shooting out our noses.
Some of the problem is in Simon’s script. He tries to bolster the jokes with social significance — McCarthy and blacklisting, Soviets and the bomb — and merge it with the comic paranoia of the liberal-minded maniac who runs this comedy circus, Max Prince.
Prince represents the great Sid Caesar himself, and it’s great to see William C. Marlowe both in the role and back on the Interplayers stage after seven years. Marlowe knows how to make himself look funny-ridiculous onstage — I’d forgotten the crossed eyes, the effeminate sashaying hips, the comic red-faced rages. A speech about how capitalism advertises so much shit just so we’ll buy more of it is delivered with hilarious intensity. But just as Simon is naturally a comic playwright who sometimes strains to include the respectable serious stuff in his plays, Marlowe is more at home doing shtick: The learned anecdotes from ancient Greek history (odd in a man as forgetful as Prince), the political tirades, the desperate and sentimental attempts to the keep the comic family together seem forced and unprepared for.
The same is true of another returning Interplayers veteran, Gary Pierce, as the hypochondriac modeled on Woody Allen. Pierce has a funny stand-on-the-table-and-belt-it-out moment, but a late and supposedly affectionate late-play reconciliation with a once-again-angry Prince wasn’t very convincing at all.
Two standouts in supporting roles earn laughs with different styles. As Milt, the quickest and most flamboyant in a bunch of quick and flamboyant writers, Todd Diamond bursts into every scene with energy, presenting the comedic gold standard to which everybody else onstage ought to aspire. Diamond knows how to do broad physical comedy (with Milt’s outlandish clothes), but he also knows just how to draw attention to the slyest of wisecracks.
In contrast, Todd Jasmin deadpans his way to laugh-out-loud jokes. As Brian, the Irish two-pack-a-day smoker with a yen to make it big in Hollywood, Jasmin repeatedly delivers poker-faced sarcasm from the back of the room, skewering others’ pretensions. Where Diamond constructs comedy, Jasmin distills it; together, they set the pace for this show.
It’s a pace that could afford to speed up, especially in the first act, when there are gaps in the dialogue big enough to drive a broken-down ‘53 Chevy through. Director Andrew Ware Lewis needs to prod several actors either to pick up their cues or pick up their severance checks. Which might sound unduly harsh, except that there’s much talk of job insecurity, of losing one’s job, even in among all the *Laughter on the 23rd Floor.*
Dying in a tragedy is easy, actors will tell you — it’s trying to get comedy right that’ll kill ya. Interplayers’ production of *Laughter* doesn’t always succeed with the jokes, but then the cast is hampered by Simon’s attempt to ram some reflectiveness into the repartee. Then again, if you don’t like one punch line, there’s always another setup coming. Wait for the pause, then zing ‘em.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Interplayers 2006-07 season

With some shuffling of dates and three new titles, here is the "Rights Pending" 26th season at Interplayers, with dates, as announced not in a press release but on the back cover of the *Laughter on the 23rd Floor* program:

Bus Stop, by William Inge
Sept. 14-Oct. 1

The Woman in Black, by Stephen Mallatrat
Oct. 12-29

Moon Over Buffalo, by Ken Ludwig
Nov. 9-26

Driving Miss Daisy, by Alfred Uhry
Jan. 17-Feb. 4, 2007

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, by Richard Alfieri
March 1-18

The Price, by Arthur Miller
April 5-22

Ruthless!, by Joel Paley
May 10-27

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor

at Interplayers through May 20
Tom Heppler as Kenny
Todd Jasmin as Brian
William Marlowe as Max Prince
Ron Ford as Val
directed by Andrew Ware Lewis

Laughter on the 23rd Floor

Bill Marlowe as Max Prince, Chasity Kohlman as Helen
April 27-May 20, 2006
Spokane Interplayers Ensemble

CenterStage auditions May 8-9

for *Ives' Lives,* directed by Tim Behrens
auditions Mon-Tues, May 8-9, at 7 pm
prepare one or two 2-minute monologues
needed: 3M, 3W (ages 18-60)
1017 W. First Ave.
747-8243 x107 or
performances: June 27-Aug. 25
$35 per show
the Ives plays selected for this evening of one-acts include Soap Opera, Time Flies, Words/Words, Sure Thing, A Singular Kind of Guy, Babel's in Arms and English Made Simple

Friday, April 21, 2006

*Big Trouble* play at MAC

Thursday, April 27, 7 pm at the MAC, 2316 W. First Ave.:
Tony Caprile, John Oswald, Patrick Treadway and Michael Weaver will appear in a play based on the "Big Trouble" exhibit at the MAC about the trial following the 1905 murder of former Idaho Gov. Frank Steunenberg

correction re *The Tuna Project*

The Inlander, April 20, p. 21, lefthand column:
Bobo got it wrong, twice.
The play that Michael Weaver and William Marlowe are remembered around here for acting in together is not *Greater Tuna* but *A Tuna Christmas.* And Didi Snavely is a woman - the wife of J.J., who owns the gun and ammo store.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

reading *Voysey* and *Bach*

Bobo's been reading scripts ...

David Mamet's adaptation of Harley Granville-Barker's 1905 drama, *The Voysey Inheritance*: Great stuff. Amazing curtain lines in all four acts. Premise: For generations, the Voysey family has scooped funds out of clients' trust portfolios and used them to gamble on the stock market. Son discovers the father's chicanery, stands on principle, gets varied reactions from siblings. The blowhard military brother, the drunken artist in denial are two of the brothers, drawn too broadly. The sisters and mother aren't memorable, though perhaps more so in performance. Best female role: Edward the son's fiancee. What I really want to know is, what is the nature of Mamet's adaptation -- did he really condense it from four hours to two? Any speculation why the Victorian and Edwardian eras (The Winslow Boy, Boston Marriage) hold such interest for cigar-chomping, poker-playing Chicago boy Mamet?

Otamar Moses, *Bach in Leipzig*
Found this at Borders; embarrassed to admit I was ignorant of him and it; done a year ago at Seattle ACT, so of course all the Seattle critics got to blurb its Faber endpapers. An intellectual farce; a playful drama of ideas. Takes an actual historical incident as its premise, then goes off on it. In 1722, Bach and seven others had to audition for the post of of organist and kapellmeister at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. The ingenious thing is, much of the play is structured like a fugue: comic bits repeated and varied in much the way a theme is chopped up and reworked in Baroque music. So hilarious that I thought by the end that Moses had perhaps sacrificed ideas about creativity and ambition for the sake of some cheap gags. But it's still a delightful mix of ideas and silliness. Has a preface by Tom Stoppard that will make your jaw drop. Mine did — Moses was born the year I graduated from college, and here has written a play that I would chop off a pinkie to have written.

Bobo's also halfway through a farce scheduled for ARt at the end of next season: Ron Hutchinson's *Moonlight and Magnolias,* about the frantic rewriting of the *Gone With the Wind* script by David Selznick, Ben Hecht and Victor Fleming.
_Too_ farcical? And the playwright has dumped in every bit of trivia about the production of GWTW that you can find on IMDB. But I'm only midway.

SO ... with the the end of Reading Stage at Civic -- but with Ignite! and Lake City forging on (?) with readers' theater -- and with Interplayers perhaps to offer even more (?) Reading Stage events next season — what do y'all think? Has this area gotten saturated with staged readings? Any desire to pool efforts? Could this blog be a clearinghouse for which scripts people would most like to see produced in semi-staged fashion? Bobo out.

Monday, April 17, 2006

*The Tuna Project* replaces *Tour de Farce*

Actors Rep has changed their season opener because, after years of trying, Michael Weaver acquired the rights to both the *Tuna* plays.

In the Aug. 25-Sept. 9 slot, instead of the previously announced *Tour de Farce,* ARt will produce two two-man plays in rep (that is, in alternating performances, nine times each): *Greater Tuna* and *A Tuna Christmas.*

These dual shows will be performed not in the Spartan Theatre but in SFCC's 600-seat Music Auditorium.

Two local actors who succeeded in these shows before in Spokane will perform them again: Bill Marlowe and Michael Weaver.

A third Tuna play — *Red, White and Tuna* — is being readied but is not part of this season-opening pairing, which ARt is going to dub *The Tuna Project.*

Sunday, April 09, 2006

opening-night review of *Born Yesterday* at Actors Rep

With the season’s deepest ensemble, most energetic direction, most loathsome crook, best inspiration in a tight skirt and most delight taken in skewering corporate sleaze, the current revival of Garson Kanin’s *Born Yesterday* (at Actors Rep through April 22), may be the best darn civics lesson any Spokane theater will offer for some time. It’s certainly the funniest.

Kanin’s comedy, 60 years old, is prescient as a Democrat’s fantasy. Imagine Tom DeLay getting hammered right into prison, and all his old friends are laughing at him, only he’s too dumb to know it — and somebody else gets the girl. That’s the gist of *Born Yesterday,* reborn for today.

Change the terms a bit — Michael Milken sold junk bonds, Ken Lay sold junk energy — and Harry Brock, the corrupt magnate who sells plain old junk, starts to look like our contemporary.

Brock hunkers down in our nation’s capital to butter some politicians’ bread with bribery. He’s used to getting his way, see, so don’t try any monkey business, pal. Only he’s got this dumb broad of a girlfriend, and she’s like to make him look uncouth or sumpin around all these socialites and senators. So he decides to hire a writer (a real wise-acre, that one) to tutor the chorus girl, give her a kind of intellectual make-over. Only the plan backfires, and Harry Brock learns to spell big words like “comeuppance.”

An opening sequence, with bellhops sprinting, flunkies fetching drinks and Harry bellowing, sets a dizzying tone. Tralen Doler’s direction — set for maximum energy and volume — is as snappy as the straps under those bellhops’ chins.

As Brock, Michael Weaver sets his voice on “bellow” and occasionally screeches higher. He’s as morally ugly in this role as he’s ever been on a local stage. One trap with the Brock character is to sketch a caricature of selfishness — this guy screams at everyone around him, always expecting to get his way. In everything. All the time. He’s a stupid man who measures other people stupidly — solely by how much money they make — and whose last-resort argument always involves threatening violence.

But Weaver shows us hulk’s insecurities, too: He’s still settling scores from his boyhood, still wants his dame Billie to like him. With his tongue lumping beneath his lower lip, his mouth tightening with menace, Weaver makes a convincing bad guy. Some of the comic mannerisms linger — double-takes over surprises that Brock would ride out with bluster — but those are small flaws. Weaver’s boss man is unpredictable, switching in a flash from mean to nice— just like a snake, or a wife abuser.

As Paul Verrall, the reporter who takes on the tasks of educating Billie and exposing Brock, Dexter Ankrom borrows from William Holden’s look in the movie. More important, he’s persuasive as the idealist/teacher. When he urges Billie to read Pope and Dickens and Paine, he’s effectively aiming his exhortations at us, too.

If you want still more acting lessons, look for the details in Doler’s ensemble. Watch Ann Whiteman, a vision of Mamie Eisenhower propriety, festooned in gloves and fur as the senator’s wife, simpering and grimacing as Harry and his broad put on their vulgarian display. Watch John Oswald, the corrupt senator, staring with self-disgust into his tumbler full of whiskey, then snapping on the charm just before the next glad-handing offensive. Watch Patrick Treadway blanch when his look-the-other-way lawyer gets his tough hide of self-deception peeled back; notice how his tippling accelerates, growing even sloppier and more desperate.

The uncredited set gleams with fancy ‘50s fixtures — and though the flimsy double-door entry is a flaw in this otherwise elegant hotel suite, a bust of Shakespeare presides over the bookshelves, as if to hint at all the tutoring and mind-opening in Act Two.

Which is only appropriate, because we’re the ones being tutored. When the writer takes the dumb broad in hand (!), exposing her to editorials and museums and art, he’s Kanin’s stand-in: The playwright isn’t just showing Billie how much fun having things explained to you can be. He’s showing us, too. Our country’s good, but only as good as the people (and thinking, informed voters) in it. The delight in Ankrom’s and Lang’s performances is that they make learning seem, not useless and boring but invigorating and fun. There’s a serious point in there, too — a democracy depends on an informed citizenry — but mostly Kanin is writing comedy.

Still, *Born Yesterday* doesn’t shy away from heavier matters — like domestic violence, with Harry Brock prowling about like a lesser Stanley Kowalski. In fact, *Born Yesterday* brings up a lot of associations, all of them good ones: *All My Sons* for the wartime corruption, *My Fair Lady* for the Pygmalion-figure’s intellectual make-over. It’s an American classic that you ought to see — and as good as Judy Holiday is in the 1950 movie (and as poor as the Melanie Griffith version was 43 years later), Garson Kanin’s comedic paean to democracy is something all voting Americans, here in the twilight of the failed Bush administration, ought to see in a theater, just for the up-close intensity that a live performance in the Spartan Theatre affords.

Like Billie, if we start educating ourselves, we might just throw a revolution. First we’ll read a book, and then we’ll throw da bums out — all of ‘em. Right on their corrupt little keisters.

For a revised version of this review — with comments on Christina Lang’s excellent performance as Billie Dawn — pick up a copy of the April 13 issue of *The Pacific Northwest Inlander.*

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

next season at Spokane Children's Theatre

The Nutcracker (the musical play, not the ballet)
The Magic Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
James and the Giant Peach
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella

Best of Broadway 2006-07 season

Sept. 19-24

The Capitol Steps
Nov. 19

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Nov. 30-Dec. 3

Jan. 2-7, 2007

Feb. 15-18

Little Shop of Horrors
March 13-14

Elton John's and Tim Rice's Aida
March 29-April 1

April 24-26

partial 2006-07 season for Spokane Interplayers Ensemble

next season at Interplayers:

September: William Inge's *Bus Stop,* starring Ellen Travolta and Jack Bannon
We're at a diner 30 miles west of Kansas City during a blizzard. It's 1 am. Grace, the diner's owner (Travolta's role?) and Elma are waiting for the bus from Topeka. The bus spills its occupants: Cherie (the Marilyn Monroe role), Dr. Lyman (drunk and lecherous English prof, who develops a thing for Elma), Carl (the bus driver, who has a thing for Grace), Bo (an impulsive young cowboy) and Virgil (an old ranch hand who tries to keep an eye on Bo). Will Bannon play Carl, or Virgil, or Dr. Lyman?
Travolta says they'll bring in "a director from L.A." and that "some casting will be done here, and some there."
She also said that "I approached Interplayers on this [as opposed to the reverse, presumably] and that "I've wanted to do this project for years."

The Woman in Black (A Ghost Play), adapted by Stephen Malatratt from the novel by Susan Hill
An eerie story of a solicitor who's been sent to wind up the affairs of the deceased Mrs. Drablow — a recluse from the "marsh country" whom the locals believe, along with her house, to be cursed. Two actors play multiple roles.

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, by Richard Alfieri
ran 28 performances on Broadway in October 2003 -- starred Mark Hamill and Polly Bergen (cast of two)
A foul-mouthed, temperamental middle-aged gay man arrives each week at a strait-laced older woman's condo in St. Pete, Fla., to teach her the tango, waltz, swing, etc., and they argue and resolve a lot of issues.

a musical comedy about musical comedies, directed by Troy Nickerson
A mousy suburban housewife has a 3rd-grade daughter who's a song-and-dance sensation. Throw in lots of references to *Gypsy* and *All About Eve* along with an ambitious schoolteacher, a venomous personal assistant and a theater critic who does Ethel Merman impersonations (how cliche -- now Tallulah, _there's_ a woman a man would be willing to do up his hair for ...) -- anyway, sounds like lots of mega-campy fun.

Notes from the season-announcement reception this afternoon in the Gellhorn Gallery:
Board chairman Tom Varljen got off the best joke, saying, "We _are_ a nonprofit organization, but this year, we went out of our way to make that happen."
It was great to see a lobby jam-packed with Interplayers supporters -- great to see Bob and Joan Welch present and welcomed -- great to see that Interplayers really is going to have a 26th season.
Varljen announced that next season will go back to including seven plays, that some readers' theater and other events will also be sprinkled about the schedule, and that "we've got to make this more cost-effective, so we'll be dropping some preview performances, because we need to go for the revenue."
Varljen also warned that the theater has not yet gotten the rights for "Woman in Black,* *Dance Lessons* or *Ruthless.*
As for the other three plays in this proposed seven-play season, "interim artistic director" (so announced here) Wes Deitrick says that they haven't obtained the rights for those, either -- want to keep it secret for now, but will announce the other plays "sometime around the opening of *Laughter on the 23rd Floor* on April 27.
Troy Nickerson and George Green have been cast as the leads in *Of Mice and Men* (June 1-24).

Interplayers also has a fund-raiser/auction coming up on Saturday, April 22.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Upcoming auditions at Lake City Playhouse

Run for Your Wife
a zany comedy directed by Phil Morin
Thursday, April 6, 7 pm
at the Playhouse, 1320 E. Garden Ave., Coeur d'Alene
Cold readings, no preparation required
Performances May 12-27

Treasure Island
a children's play directed by Laura Little
April 25-26, 6:30 pm
at the Playhouse
Cold reading, no preparation required
ages 6-18
Performances June 15-25

Raggedy Ann & Andy
a children's play directed by Kathy Mola
May 22-23, 6:30 pm
at the Playhouse
Cold readings, no preparation required
Ages 6-18
Performances July 20-30

Lake City Playhouse
1320 E. Garden Avenue
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
(208) 667-1323

Born Yesterday

Born Yesterday
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Actors Rep production in Spokane, April 2006

Christina Lang as Billie Dawn
Michael Weaver as Harry Brock

She's pretty clever at gin rummy. Didja think she was just born yesterday?

Actors Rep production of Born Yesterday

directed by Tralen Doler

left to right:
Patrick Treadway as Jim Devery
Christina Lang as Billie Dawn
Michael Weaver as Harry Brock

Born Yesterday

Born Yesterday
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Actors Repertory Theatre of the Inland Northwest
at Spokane Falls Community College
April 7-22, 2006

from right to left:
John Oswald as the corrupt congressman
Patrick Treadway as the drunken lawyer
Michael Weaver as the garbage magnate
Ann Whiteman as the corrupt congressman's wife

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Merc Playhouse in Twisp, Wash.

The Merc will present A.R. Gurney's *Sylvia* (opens June 30) with Caryn Hoaglund and Tony Caprile, and Michael Healey's *The Drawer Boy* (opens Aug. 18) with Reed McColm (this time, playing the other brother -- the part that Michael Weaver played in ARt's production). Visit

opening-night review of *Private Lives*

at Spokane Civic Theatre through April 23

He stands on a verandah, one hand thrust into the pocket of his elegant double-breasted suit, the other holding a cigarette aloft — his hair slicked back, the pale skin of his forehead furrowed by the arch of one very sardonic eyebrow, his chin pointing toward heaven.

He won’t find it on earth — there’s this blasted inconvenience of having to deal with other people, especially those damnably attractive, exasperating creatures known as women. Much of the time, music and martinis compensate for the nuisance — for the rest, there’s nothing like thwacking cricket balls of wit, then gazing across the drawing room to see them land *splat!* right between the eyes of an unsuspecting conversation partner.

That’s Noel Coward’s kind of leading man — and that’s the polished display Kevin Connell puts on throughout the Civic’s current production of Coward’s *Private Lives* (through April 23).

Coward wrote the part of Elyot Chase for himself, and though he’s a witty raconteur few actors can embody, Connell is up to the task. In this thinking person’s escapist comedy about a wealthy, witty married couple — now divorced, both remarried, careening into one another quite by chance at a French resort — it’s the little things Connell does that give director Trevor Rawlins’ production its panache and sheen. Connell drapes his arm over a chair, crossing his legs at the knee and lounging in exquisite self-pity. Surprised by his ex-wife’s sudden reappearance, he registers Elyot’s incredulity and then snaps his back ramrod-straight, barking out “Are you happy?” to Amanda almost as an accusation. Somewhere around their 11th or 12th spat, he shouts, “I’d like to cut off your head with a meat ax” — managing to be simultaneously shocking and comic. Even when Coward writes silly little nothings for Elyot to coo toward Mandy — Sir Noel needs to move his plot along, you see — even then Connell somehow conveys the passion along with a slight note of self-mockery. Rather daft, this business of eloping with one’s ex-wife right during one’s second honeymoon — but there it is, nothing for it but to see the business through. Right, then — off we go into a world of farcical situations and verbal brilliance.

Except that Coward fashions comedy out of jealous rages, that meat-ax wish, even out of references to someone’s stillborn sister: There’s an undercurrent of sadness and anger in Private Lives, making it more than a merely escapist play. Hearing Coward’s repartee tossed off again and again only reinforces one’s sense of how great this script is. While the rest of Rawlins’ production doesn’t rise to Connell’s level, it’s a useful foray into a world where people are impossibly unconventional and witty and gay.

Rawlins directs with admirable variety and flow. A couple of exit lines are mistimed and under-emphasized, as are a couple of most quotable moments. If you’re not going to italicize the bits about Sibyl not being allowed to quibble and about the potency of cheap music, fine — no need to make the actors stand up and beg for laughs. But Rawlins seems to let the pendulum swing too far toward flat delivery. And in the third act — after the young spouses discover the central couple bickering yet again — the pace lagged, though Rawlins generally directed with energy, best of all in the alternating second-act waves of jealousy and love that wash over poor Elyot and Amanda. For all the studied elegance that we find in the Land of Noel, that’s perhaps all we can expect out of life: periods of intermittent passion, with a cold front of jealousy and selfishness looming on the horizon. Married people fight; all couples do. At least it shows we care.

Amanda cares mostly about herself — a disorder to which Elyot is subject, too — and Jone Campbell Bryan points up her character’s comic self-absorption. Campbell Bryan excels at these haughty-British-dame roles, and here she catches Amanda’s self-dramatizing without snagging enough of her unconventionality. But she has marvelous moments making comedy out of isolated phrases and movements: her double-take when she first notices Elyot on the adjoining balcony; the inflection she gives to “yes” when asked about when she first met her second husband (and obviously can’t place the moment at all); the way she appraises her fingernails while dismissing one of Elyot’s former flames as “fundamentally stupid.”

This is a production, however, in which the age difference between Amanda and Victor makes both of them seem miscast. Campbell Bryan’s Amanda seems not so much impulsive and pleasure-seeking as simply impatient with a callow youth; as Victor, J.J. Renz seems like an earnest undergraduate who lacks the gravitas to embody British formality. He's trying too hard.

Victor and Sibyl are thankless roles, and Renz and Rita O’Farrell don’t succeed in them. We need to see how Elyot and Amanda have sought ought the opposite of one other in their new spouses. Elyot wants a sweet, docile, manageable young thing, while Amanda — reacting against the dogfights she and Elyot used to get into — clearly has opted for British propriety and emotional reserve. But O’Farrell and Renz don’t show us either. O’Farrell had marbles in her mouth instead of an English accent; for his part, Renz spends too much time with his hands clasped behind his back in judgment — and then erupts with American mannerisms during Victor’s outbursts.

On a more positive note, Peter Hardie contributes an elegant set, especially with the French doors and stone balustrade of the adjoining hotel rooms in Deauville. Susan Berger and Jan Wanless, too often underappreciated as costumers, needed to make this quartet look like the careless rich of the Lost Generation, and they succeeded, with one elegant gown after another and with the men in their evening wear looking like wedding-cake grooms.

While the rest of this production doesn’t completely keep step with Kevin Connell’s polished impersonation of Coward’s Dashing Chap in a Formal Dinner Jacket, enough of the dance is here to remind us of the effervescent fun that froths out of all those witty champagne glasses in the Land of Noel.