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“Right Place, Right Time” Is a Smartly Written, Fast-Paced, Hilarious Look at Contemporary Romantic Relationships

Stillwater Theatre will present Right Place, Right Time, a provocative romantic comedy by prize-winning playwright Lia Romeo, on Sept. 23-26 and 28-30 and Oct. 1-3 in the Studio Theatre in Jones Hall at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. Preshow publicity describes the play as a “smartly written, fast-paced, hilarious comedy that looks at contemporary relationships ….”

Stillwater’s artistic director Steven Roten says, “Stillwater’s commitment to new works continues with this fast, fun romp that examines a real-life Joe [named] Richard (played by Marc Brown), who stumbles into the nest of an oversexed mother and daughter, Gloria (Cathy Rodgers) and Stephanie (Jenn Beckwith), living in the Waldorf Astoria. In a moment of weakness, Richard is coerced into a life of wealth, avarice, and excess which forces him to examine his romantic ideas about marriage and love and if one requires the other. Add to the zany mix Richard’s ex-wife Linda (Spencer Powell) and Stephanie’s ex-fiancé Mark (Brett Yates), and you have the makings of a potent cocktail for comedy.”

Guest director Josh Benjamin recalls, “I first heard about [Right Place, Right Time] from Steven Roten,” says. He contacted me, sent me a copy of the script, and asked me to read it over. After discussing it a little bit, he asked me to direct, and we got to work.”

He adds, “I am always interested in doing something that is new to me, the actors, and the audience, so that keeps it fun. It was also a chance for me to work on a show that’s unlike anything else I’ve ever done. I don’t do a lot of comedy, so it was nice to try something stylistically different. It’s always a challenge to get out of your comfort zone, but it’s a great way to go back to the basics of the craft and really test yourself….

“As the show opens,” Benjamin says, “we see middle-aged romance novelist Richard (Marc Brown) waiting for someone in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria. Gloria (Cathy Rodgers) shows up, and we learn that her daughter Stephanie (Jenn Beckwith) is about to get married.

“Gloria lures Richard back to the apartment that she shares with Stephanie, and Richard finds himself being drawn deeper into their world of money, wanton behavior, and alcohol. Things get even more complicated as some unexpected guests arrive, and we see if Richard can finally find a place in this new lifestyle,” says Benjamin.

In addition to director Josh Benjamin, the Stillwater Theatre creative team for Right Place, Right Time includes scenic designer Paul Paliyenko, lighting designer Jim Zervas, costume designer Becky Bailey, properties manager Jan Doub Morgan, sound designer Julie Jones, and stage manager Caroline Domack.

“Comedy is always hard,” claims director Josh Benjamin, “no matter how you look at it. It really makes you pay attention to every little nuance, and spend quite a bit of your time trying the same line or moment every which way you can think of. It’s also really easy to get burnt out on it. You get a few weeks in to rehearsals, and you’ve been doing the play over and over again, and you start feeling like you are just not funny.

“Once you get to that point,” Benjamin says, “you really just have to trust that the work has been done and the story is there. Then you try to forget about all the work, forget about all the details, and just enjoy doing the show.”

He adds, “From the creative team standpoint, I think the biggest challenge has been to create the world of the Waldorf Astoria — a place of comfort and extreme luxury. We want to make sure that we get a realistic picture of the kind of lifestyle these people have — one that precious few of us actually get to experience firsthand.”

Set designer Paul Paliyenko notes, “The style of set was inspired by images of the private residences in The Plaza Hotel in New York City. The overall symmetry is a nod to the classic French chateau style of the building as well as the matching man-eating mother and daughter relationship. Certain design elements address their appetites for both alcohol and carnality. The elegance and simplicity provides a counterpoint to the true nature of this ‘nouveau riche‘ family and the people who encounter them.”

Producer Steven Rotten adds, “The setting that Paul discusses above has taken a bit of a turn to more resemble the Waldorf Astoria. This change is revealed mostly in a major change in the color palette and some of the pieces that occupy the space.”

Costume designer Becky Bailey notes, “The costumes of Gloria and Stephanie, mother and daughter, reflect their lives of privilege bordering on excess and the not-so-subtle competition that exists between them. Richard, who is surprised to find himself a bridegroom, has both an image and personality makeover as he transforms from naive romance novelist to Park Avenue boy-toy.”

Director Josh Benjamin adds, “I think that people will really get a kick out of seeing the ridiculous decisions that the characters make throughout the show, and they’ll find a way to surprise you even when you think it can’t get any wilder.”

Stillwater Theatre presents RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME at 8 p.m. Sept. 23-25, 3 p.m. Sept. 26, 8 p.m. Sept. 28-Oct. 2, and 3 p.m. Oct. 3 in the Studio Theatre in Jones Hall at Meredith College, 3800 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.

TICKETS: $15 ($10 students and seniors and FREE for Meredith students, faculty, and staff).

BOX OFFICE: 919/760-2840 or boxoffice@meredith.edu.

SHOW/PRESENTER: http://stillwatertheatre.com/.

VENUE: http://www.meredith.edu/about/virtual-tour/stop2.html.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.meredith.edu/about/directions.htm.

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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