“Golf,” according to Mark Twain, “is a good walk spoiled.” Be that as it may, what happens in the club house is often just as dramatic — and in the case of The Fox on the Fairway, playwright Ken Ludwig’s take on the sport and its aficionados, hilarious as all get-out.
When the curtain rises on Temple Theatre’s production of Fox on the Fairway, Quail Valley Country Club and the Crouching Squirrel Golf Club are fierce competitors on the links; and this year Quail Valley’s bigest bet for victory in their annual grudge match has been lured away to play for Crouching Squirrel. Of course, the president of Quail Valley doesn’t find this out until he has bet a couple of hundred thousand dollars and his wife’s antique store on the outcome. However, his newly hired office assistant turns out to be possibly even better than the guy who jumped ship. What follows is the stuff of farce, tragedies are compounded, and every unimaginable twist of fate befalls each of the six characters, producing a truly laugh-a-half-a-minute riot.
New York City director Craig Rhyne has returned to the area for the fifth time to direct a show for his longtime friend Peggy Taphorn, producing artistic director of Sanford’s Temple Theatre. Rhyne obviously has the chops to direct farce, and this is a first-class example of his work. There is never a stagnant moment. Scene tumbles into scene, doors swing, preposterous sight gags happen, and crazy antics occur while tears of laughter roll down our cheeks.
David McClutchey gives us an arrogantly sophisticated country club CEO, Henry Bingham, and then shows us a great deal of the human side of him, all the while displaying that knack for humor that distances the actor from the character without losing the essence of the character.
Peggy Taphorn, appearing as Pamela, Henry’s sex-starved vice president, is energetic, flamboyant, and funny, funny, funny. Taphorn also did the costume design, which includes sharp business attire, loud golf togs, provocative dress for the women, formal attire, and outrageous sweaters.
Richard “Dickie” Bell, president of Crouching Squirrel Golf Club, is played by Tim Brosnan as slick and maybe a bit sleazy, certainly underhanded, and generally a delightful villain. Justin, the would-be golf champion and new hire at Quail Valley Country Club, is innocent and naive in the capable hands of Sean Powell. His facial manipulations and agile gymnastics have us pretty nearly rolling in the aisles.
Justin’s true love and fiancée, Louise, is fetchingly brought to us by Greta Zandstra, whose cavortings and emotional wailings pluck our heartstrings.
Pauline Cobrda reprises her role as Muriel Bingham, Henry’s hectoring wife, which she previously played during Theatre Raleigh’s 2013 “Hot Summer Nights” series. Cobrda is as terrifying now as she was then; and when she turns sweet, oh, she really turns it on.
Set and lighting designer Steve Harrington has created the elegant tap room at Quail Valley Country Club, replete with massive plump sofa, leather chairs with pillows, well-stocked bar, fireplace, pictures of champion golfers, and a wall of French windows. A beautiful night scene is also created, including stars against a deep blue background.
Fox on the Fairway is a great way to hone your sense of humor for the upcoming golf season.
SECOND OPINION: March 29th Sanford, NC Sanford Herald review by Vicki Hogan: http://www.sanfordherald.com/features/x268554143/Cast-hits-hole-in-one-with-Fox-on-the-Fairway; and March 25th preview by Zach Potter: http://www.sanfordherald.com/news/leecounty/x268552842/TEMPLE-THEATRE-The-Fox-on-the-Fairway-has-the-Fore-mula-for-comedy.
Temple Theatre presents THE FOX ON THE FAIRWAY at 2 and 7 p.m. April 2, 8 p.m. April 3 and 4, 2 p.m. April 5, 2 and 7 p.m. April 9, 8 p.m. April 10 and 11, and 2 p.m. April 12 at 120 Carthage St., Sanford, North Carolina 27330.
BOX OFFICE: 919-774-4155, firstname.lastname@example.org, or https://www.vendini.com/.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.templeshows.com/, https://www.facebook.com/TheTempleTheatre, https://twitter.com/TempleTheatreNC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Theatre_%28Sanford,_North_Carolina%29.
The Fox on the Fairway (2010 comedy): http://www.kenludwig.com/fox_on_the_fairway/a_fox_on_the_fairway.php (Ken Ludwig.com web page) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fox_on_the_Fairway (Wikipedia).
Ken Ludwig (playwright): http://www.kenludwig.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Ludwig (Wikipedia).
Craig Rhyne (New York City director): https://www.facebook.com/craig.rhyne1 (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.