North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre’s community-theater production of Don’t Dress for Dinner, French playwright Marc Camoletti’s knee-slapping 1991 sequel to Boeing Boeing (1961), is surprisingly strong, because director Brian Lord has successfully transposed this bedroom farce from a remodeled French farmhouse, a couple of hours from the French capital of Paris, to a renovated barn near Asheville, several hours west of the North Carolina state capital of Raleigh. Add an animated cast and a simplified but effective set — with five doors to slam — by scenic and lighting designer Stephanie Waaser, and NRACT has its first hit of 2011.
When the lights come up, the highly strung Jacqueline (Lisa Binion) is packing to spend the weekend with her mother; and her philandering husband, Bernard (Tom Barbieri), is eagerly anticipating spending the weekend with his glamorous mistress Suzanne (Sharon Galluzo) and his best friend Robert (Ryan Ladue), who will serve as a “beard” for this adulterous assignation. What Bernard doesn’t know is that Jacqueline and Robert are secretly having an affair of their own. So, when Jacqueline finds out that Robert is on the way from Raleigh to Asheville, she cancels of her weekend with mom.
Bernard is dismayed. Not only has he invited Suzanne and Robert for the weekend, but he has hired a fancy chef (Mary Beth Hoots as Suzette), who is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris Culinary Arts School, so that he and his guests can eat really high on the hog.
In addition to Jacqueline’s last-minute change of plans, the fact that both Suzanne the mistress and Suzette the cook are nicknamed “Suzy” creates some delightful misunderstandings, which nearly prove fatal when Suzette’s hot-tempered husband, George (Andy Miller), arrives early to find his wife in a compromising position with her employer and his guests.
Tom Barbieri is wonderfully wicked as the womanizing Bernard, and Ryan Ladue is amusing as the easily nonplussed Robert. Lisa Binion is a scream as the increasingly suspicious Jacqueline, especially in her bondage gear; and Sharon Galluzo is a delight as Suzanne, who may be a whiz in the boudoir, but is a fish-out-of-water in the kitchen.
With her put-on French accent purposefully coming and going, Mary Beth Hoots is hilarious as the good-old-girl Suzette, who hasn’t lost her Buncombe County twang despite her schooling in Paris. Andy Miller adds a crowd-pleasing comic cameo as Suzette’s Harley-riding husband, George, with his hair-trigger temper; and Miller’s slow burns are worth the price of admission all by themselves.
SECOND OPINION: Feb 1st Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts & Entertainment review by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/02/dont-dress-for-dinner-is-silly-comedy-for-smart-people/; and Jan. 29th Raleigh, NC Classical Voice of North Carolina review by Alan R. Hall: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=187. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Jan. 28th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/01/dont-dress-for-dinner-is-a-hilarious-sex-comedy/.)
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER at 8 p.m. Feb. 4 and 5, and 3 p.m. Feb. 6, 8 p.m. Feb. 11 and 12, and 3 p.m. Feb. 13 at North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center, 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615.
TICKETS: $15 ($12 students and seniors 62+), except $5 Student Rush Tickets (available five minutes before curtain), $10 Sunday matinees, and $13 for adults and $10 for students and seniors for groups of 15 or more.
BOX OFFICE: 919/866-0228, email@example.com, or https://www.vendini.com/.
The Play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_Dress_for_Dinner (Wikipedia).
The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Camoletti_(playwright) (Wikipedia), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=7490 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0131942/ (Internet Movie Database).
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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