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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

— Along the way, O’Dea and Freshman each turn in amusing performances with dead-on send-ups of theatrical stereotypes. O’Dea’s especially fetching as a crusty, once- lusty lounge singer who owes more to Mae West and Rusty Warren than to Sarah Bernhardt. Employing a trenchant Manhattan accent, O’Dea’s Beatrice loudly complains that Broadway has devolved into a kind of Disneyland. “You can’t even find a hooker on the street,” she bemoans. “There are girls dressed like hookers, but they’re tourists. It’s all mixed up!”

Freshman’s Curt is an egomaniacal entertainer, more impressed with himself than anyone else is. “Never fear, Logan’s here,” he exclaims upon his Act 1 entrance. He deftly handles Arlene’s romantic attentions without seriously seducing the Buffalo gal, but he uses her infatuation to finagle a rewrite of Jerry’s “boring” play.

Arlington’s director is a bit of a scatterbrain, but he holds everything together by remaining above all the backstage hullabaloo and even manages to inject a hint of pathos into the denouement.

Real-life director Dan Stevens clearly enjoys funny plays about plays. He recently helmed Appleseed Productions’ “The Real Inspector Hound,” a comedy about two theater critics who get caught up in the action of a whodunit that they’re reviewing. In “Don’t Talk to the Actors,” Stevens wisely keeps the spotlight on the two aging actors, and O’Dea and Freshman reward him by rising to the occasion with plenty of wit and a pinch of warmth.

“Don’t Talk to the Actors” continues its run at CNY Playhouse, near the Macy’s entrance at Shoppingtown Mall, at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15, 16 and 17 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, and at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 23 and 24. Tickets cost $20 for the show only, or $35 for dinner and show at Friday and Saturday performances. The 6:30 p.m. dinners are catered by Cathy’s Corner Café; 885-8960; cnyplayhouse.com.

The CNY Playhouse, headed by artistic director Dustin Czarn, was previously known as Not Another Theater Company.

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