This weekend and next, a stellar community-theater cast, under the sure-handed guidance of long-time Raleigh Little Theatre artistic director Haskell Fitz-Simons, will delight RLT audiences with their effervescent version of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s classic 1939 screwball comedy, The Man Who Came to Dinner.
David Wright is a stitch as nationally known radio broadcaster and waspish wit Sheridan Whiteside, a curmudgeon’s curmudgeon who becomes a real pain in the patootie when he reluctantly agrees to have dinner at the home of irascible Mesalia, OH factory owner Ernest W. Stanley (Phil Crone) and his sociable wife, Daisy (Kate Tonner), slips on their icy doorstep afterwards, injures his hip, and must convalesce for weeks in the Stanley household. As is his want, Whiteside imperiously takes over the first floor of the Stanley domicile, banishes his hosts and their progeny to the upper stories, and temporarily relocates the three-ring circus that is his life to rural Ohio.
Jenny Anglum is a pistol as Whiteside’s spunky Gal Friday Maggie Cutler, and Joel Horton is charming — in a backwoods sort of way — Maggie’s new beau newspaperman and would-be playwright Bert Jefferson. Misha Nikitine and Kirsten Ehlert are amusing as the Stanleys’ high-spirited children Richard and June; and Tim Cherry and Jessica Smith are hilarious as Dr. Bradley and Nurse Preen, who become targets of some of Sheridan Whiteside’s sharpest verbal barbs.
Del Flack hams it up to a fare-thee-well as Harpo Marx-like funnyman Banjo, and John Adams adds an urbane and witty portrayal as Noël Coward-like British actor and songwriter Beverly Carlton, but it is Amy Flynn who steals the show with her outrageous Carol Burnett-like antics as the oversexed social-climbing Gertrude Lawrence-like actress Lorraine Sheldon.
Director Haskell Fitz-Simons is a robust ringmaster for the wild and wooly shenanigans — involving penguins, an octopus, and 10,000 cockroaches — that take place in set designer Jim Zervas‘ splendidly detailed recreation of the first floor of the Stanleys’ home. Lighting designer Cailen Waddell, costume designer Jenny Mitchell, properties manager Ann Marie Crosmun, sound designers Haskell Fitz-Simons and Todd Houseknecht likewise do some of their best work here and succeed in making The Man Who Came to Dinner a must-see comedy and a great way to celebrate Raleigh Little Theatre‘s 75th anniversary.
SECOND OPINION: Feb. 18, 2011 Raleigh, NC Classical Voice of North Carolina review by Spencer Powell: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=415; Feb. 6, 2011 Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/02/06/968575/rlt-celebrates-75-years.html, Feb. 5, 2011 column by Barry Saunders: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/02/05/969136/an-rlt-encore-for-75th.html, and Dec. 25, 2010 preview by Ray Martin: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/12/25/881148/raleigh-little-theatre-turning.html. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Feb. 12th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/02/the-man-who-came-to-dinner-opens-at-rlt/.)
Raleigh Little Theatre presents THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER at 8 p.m. Feb. 19, 3 p.m. Feb. 20, 8 p.m. Feb. 24-26, and 3 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Cantey V. Sutton Main Stage Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $20 ($16 students and seniors 62+).
BOX OFFICE: 919/821-3111, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.etix.com/.
NOTE: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive listening devices are available for all shows.
The Play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Came_to_Dinner (Wikipedia), and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=5781 (Internet Broadway Database).
The Film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Came_to_Dinner_(film) (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033874/ (Internet Movie Database).
George S. Kaufman: http://georgeskaufman.com/index.html (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_S._Kaufman (Wikipedia), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=5827 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0442151/ (Internet Movie Database).
Moss Hart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moss_Hart (Wikipedia), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=6153 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0366454/ (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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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Reviewpreviews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.