We start with quotes from reviews by The Guardian and the Chicago Tribune, respectively: “Hurtling along at the speed of light, this breathtaking farce is a near faultless piece of theatrical invention” and “Text book example of how to create the perfect farce.” Raleigh Little Theatre’s production of Don’t Dress for Dinner, under the direction of Patrick Torres, fits those acclamations to a T.
The play was written in 1987 by French playwright Marc Camoletti and adapted (actually completely rewritten according to Wikipedia) by British playwright Robin Hawdon and opened in Chicago in 2008 and on Broadway in 2012. Hawdon is also known for God and Stephen Hawking, which probably will experience a resurgence with Hawking’s recent death.
RLT artistic director Patrick Torres extracts from his performers precision timing and perfect farcical presentation; never over the top, but constant laugh-producing business that never becomes tiresome. In a word — hilarious.
With Casey Kaleba’s fight choreography, the actors rumble and tumble, jostle and joust, cavort and cuddle, which keeps the audience cracking up. Every morsel of time is filled with merriment, dissembling, misunderstanding, chicanery, falsity, and fun.
All this happens in the confines of a repurposed French farmhouse, exquisitely designed by Elizabeth Newton and lighted by Jeremy Diamond. Every detail has a function, and even the rooms have names that are part of the story.
The home is occupied by a happily married couple, who just happen to cheat very discretely on each other. Well, until this story comes along. Mistaken identities, assumptions, food preparations, and room assignments all add spice to the joy and frivolity.
Vicki Olson garbs this cast in appropriate French designer attire, including a convertible construction that is delirious.
The man of the house, Bernard, is played by Rob Jenkins with the pomp of a man who knows his way around a bit too much, and withers in fear when his facade is punctured. Jenny Anglum plays his wife, Jacqueline, with a smooth sophistication, and the ability to rage when necessary. She can be seductive; and she can be cool as a martini, depending on what she needs.
Robert, Bernard’s old buddy who is visiting, is done by Michael Parker. His interplay with the other characters is quick and real, and handling the various relationships with the three women is a tough chore that he manages well.
A.C. Donohue plays Suzanne, a delightful and lovable bombshell, who wriggles her way around men and maybe she is good in the kitchen too. Suzette comes to us through Tara Nicole Williams, who is smashing in the part, truly larger than life, as her multifaceted role demands. Williams demonstrates a wonderful, comedic talent; and Will Harris rounds out this rich ensemble as George. Like the rest of the cast, Harris demonstrates a taste for the ridiculous; and there is a clever surprise denouement.
Hurry and get your reservations to this laff-a-minute production before it closes on June 28th.
SECOND OPINION: June 8th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh BWW Review by Lauren Van Hemert: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-Raleigh-Little-Theatres-DONT-DRESS-FOR-DINNER-Serves-Up-Comic-Romp-About-Marriage-Infidelity-and-Alibis-Gone-Awry-20180608.
Raleigh Little Theatre presents DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER at 3 p.m. June 10, 8 p.m. June 14-16, 3 p.m. June 17, 8 p.m. June 21-23, and 3 p.m. June 24 in RLT‘s Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $25 ($21 students and seniors 62+).
BOX OFFICE: 919-821-3111 or https://raleighlittletheatre.secure.force.com/ticket/#details_a0Sd000000jOO3DEAW.
SHOW: https://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows/dont-dress-for-dinner/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/1341173752650760/.
RLT‘S 2017-18 SEASON: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/tickets/memberships.html.
PRESENTER: http://www.raleighlittletheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/RaleighLittleTheatre, https://twitter.com/RLT1936, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raleigh_Little_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/raleighlittletheatre.
NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices are available for all shows. RLT has also installed a hearing loop in the Cantey V. Sutton Theatre.
NOTE 2: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 3 p.m. Sunday, June 17th, performance.
Don’t Dress for Dinner (1987 Paris and 2012 Broadway comedy): https://www.samuelfrench.com/p/1252/dont-dress-for-dinner (Samuel French, Inc.), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/dont-dress-for-dinner-491119 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Dress_for_Dinner (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: http://www.wctlive.ca/docs/study_guide-don_t_dress_for_dinner.pdf (Western Canada Theatre).
Marc Camoletti (French playwright, 1923-2003): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/marc-camoletti-7490 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0131942/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Camoletti_%28playwright%29 (Wikipedia).
Robin Hawdon (British playwright and author): https://robinhawdon.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/robin-hawdon-491122 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0369937/ (Internet Movie Database).
Patrick Torres (director and RLT artistic director): http://raleighlittletheatre.org/people/patrick-torres/ (RLT bio) and https://www.facebook.com/patrick.torres.585 (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 Amazon.com. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori previously reviewed theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.