Entertainment » Theatre

Moon Over Buffalo

by Kathryn  Ryan
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Sep 17, 2013
Ken Clement and Michelle Foytek as two aging thespians have a rare harmonious moment in costume for Cyrano de Bergerac in Broward Stage Door’s ’Moon Over Buffalo’
Ken Clement and Michelle Foytek as two aging thespians have a rare harmonious moment in costume for Cyrano de Bergerac in Broward Stage Door’s ’Moon Over Buffalo’  

The farcical offering, "Moon over Buffalo," shines an intense, comic light at Broward Stage Door. It contains all of the expected elements of farce: at least five doors constantly opening and closing, multiple sexual innuendos, misinformation that leads to confusion and a very healthy dose of slapstick and comic bits.

The plot, as in all farces, is confusing at best, so suffice to say that, just like in a Shakespearean comedy, there are two pairs of lovers who come together in the end in spite of difficulties along the way. Of course, there is also the requisite happy ending, even if it is in the form a deus ex machina that strains credulity. But never mind, this production, featuring a terrific cast, is laugh-out-loud funny and should not be missed.

Brilliantly directed and choreographed (Wow! what a sword fight) by Micheal Leeds, "Moon over Buffalo" features a delicious sundae of a cast. The cherry on top is Michelle Foytek as the aging stage actress, Charlotte Hays. Having seen the original production on Broadway in 1995, starring Carol Burnett in the role, it is no exaggeration to say that Foytek more than fills the famous comedy star's shoes.

Her timing is impeccable. For example, in her response to her husband George's wondering how they could have brought such a beautiful daughter into the world, she retorts, "She's not yours; I slept around." In another scene, after lamenting that she is beginning to look like Ed Sullivan and is reassured that she still looks beautiful, she quips, "You have glaucoma." She also describes George's mistress as "so wholesome she could give milk."

For his part, Ken Clement as George, the husband/stage partner of Charlotte, a la Lunt and Fontaine, delightfully chews every piece of scenery he can get his hands on. Oh, and is it fun to watch! His role demands a lot of physical humor and slapstick, and Clement delivers.

But the funniest bit in the whole play comes when Andy Quiroga, as Paul, the wannabe son-in-law to these two lunatics, comes on stage in the play-within-the-play scene. The bald-head Quiroga wears a ridiculously coiffed, black wig which hangs precariously onto side of his head. In the ensuing conversation Charlotte tries to inconspicuously right it, adding to the absolute ridiculousness of the situation. Quiroga is funny throughout.

Another great performance among the many good ones in the show comes from Miki Edelman as Charlotte's hard of hearing mother, Ethyl. Her banter back and forth with her son-in-law is worth the price of admission. As their daughter, Roz, Susan Slotoroff is engaging, as is her fiancée, Howard, played by Edward Miskie, who is both Hollywood handsome and endearing as a dim-witted weatherman.

Brilliantly directed and choreographed (Wow! what a sword fight) by Micheal Leeds, "Moon over Buffalo" features a delicious sundae of a cast. The cherry on top is Michelle Foytek.

Glen Lawrence, as Charlotte's longtime attorney, Richard, who still carries a torch for her is also comically convincing, even though the director, Leeds, has him enter one scene with an apple in his mouth, as if he has fetched a ball. This is one of only a few bits that do not work.
Another miss is the amount of time it takes Clement to rifle through a prop box in search of a knife to kill himself.

Are we to believe that he forgot the knife is a stage prop as he sticks it into his gut and wonders why there is no blood? There is also a pants-ripping bit that can be seen from a mile away. However, this play is full of delightful schtick, like the suggestive position of Paul as he tries in vain to pull up a drunken George's pants so that the subsequent line about 'coming out of the closet' takes on new meaning.

There is one aspect of the acting that stands out -- but not in a good way. Jessica Carmen as Eileen, George's mistress, affects an annoying walk. It is too contrived and her otherwise yeoman like performance suffers for it.

The costumes by Peter Lovello are both colorful and accurate to the early 1950's time period. The actresses are fitted with period hats, gloves and purses and even wear seamed stockings. The men's suits, especially Miskie's, with accompanying light yellow argyle sweater vest, add to the overall lighthearted feel of the piece.

The two level set is very clever. The set is comprised of furniture as well as set and prop pieces that the Hays' have accumulated over the years from their various shows; it mirrors the crazy atmosphere. One wall features a poster for "The Skin of Our Teeth," which had recently been on Broadway at the time. Another wall has a dartboard with a picture of Donald Colman attached to it. These small touches complete the picture that is the life of these traveling players.

But the huge truck placed smack in the middle of the stage and overflowing with fabric, although adding color, is never used sufficiently, save to hide George in one scene. A large, fold-up dressing screen would have worked just as well and been less obtrusive. The addition of some upbeat instrumental music to reinforce the circus-like atmosphere would have also been great addition.

That being said, the play is an absolute visual delight because of the intricate blocking of director, Leeds. Farce is probably the most difficult style of comedy to direct, as it is so fast paced. Leeds succeeds in establishing the timing without sacrificing the characterizations. He understands that the acting must still be rooted in truth, and he guides his cast shy of stereotype. The New York production did not; it sometimes lapsed in sketch comedy. Leeds' lighter touch here is much more effective and engaging.

"Moon Over Buffalo" runs through October 6 at Broward Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W Sample Rd. Coral Springs. For information or tickets, call 954-344-7765 or visit www.stagedoorfl.org

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