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CNY Playhouse debuts at Shoppingtown Mall with a show-biz farce

Beatrice (Nora O'Dea), Lucinda (Heather Roach) and Jerry (Maxwel Anderson) react to Curt's (Lanny Freshman) demands for rewrites in CNY Playhouse's “Don't Talk to the Actors.” It runs through Nov. 24 at Shoppingtown Mall.

Beatrice (Nora O'Dea), Lucinda (Heather Roach) and Jerry (Maxwel Anderson) react to Curt's (Lanny Freshman) demands for rewrites in CNY Playhouse's “Don't Talk to the Actors.” It runs through Nov. 24 at Shoppingtown Mall. Provided

— As rookie playwright Jerry Przpezniak prepares for his first Broadway rehearsal, the older and wiser director offers some advice.

“Don’t talk to the actors,” he tells the young wordsmith. “That’ll keep you out of trouble.”

“Don’t Talk to the Actors” – a 2007 comedy by Buffalo-born playwright Tom Dudzick – opened Nov. 9 as the first full-length show staged by the newly named Central New York Playhouse at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt. It’s good advice. Talking to the actors can only lead to trouble as the unfolding farce ably attests.

The actors in this case are the fading blonde bombshell Beatrice Pomeroy played by Nora O’Dea and the flamboyant former TV star Curt Logan played by Lanny Freshman. Beatrice beats the drum for more comic lines to be added to Jerry’s script, while Curt craves a deeper, darker character arc. As he desperately tries to defend his dialogue, Jerry – played by a wide-eyed Maxwel Anderson – strenuously objects to Beatrice’s ad-libbing and Curt’s complaints.

For a while, it looks as if Jerry’s play, “Tuning Pianos,” will sound decidedly off-key.

Of course, complications ensue. Jerry’s naïve fiancée, Arlene – played by Lynn Barbato King – has a crush on Curt and immediately mistakes his comradeship for courtship. The rumpled yet compulsive stage manager – British expatriate Lucinda Shaw played by Heather Roach – breaks up with her bothersome boyfriend via Bluetooth and suddenly transforms herself into a stunning looker with a well-focused work ethic during the final scene.

Meanwhile, the director of “Tuning Pianos” – another Buffalo refugee named Mike Policzek played by Keith Arlington – suggests some “judicious pruning” of Jerry’s play. Not only is Mike challenged to bring the two-person play to life, he’s also challenged to dissuade his cast and crew from sabotaging the show. And that’s even before money and venue troubles materialize to plague the production.

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