Residents of the Conroe, Texas area may have been wondering about those peals of laughter rolling across North Main Street of late. Let me try to explain. On one side of the street at the Owen Theatre, the Crighton Players, now in their 45th year, have been celebrating their status (the longest running community theatre company in the state of Texas) with a just concluded production of Dan Goggin’s frothy musical comedy, Nunsense. On the other side of the street, at the Crighton Theatre, the Stage Right Players are currently presenting a riotous edition of Neil Simon’s very funny play, Barefoot in the Park that will keep the laughs coming through March 4th.
Nunsenseis a gentle spoof of a group of Catholic nuns who are merrily portrayed here by Brandi D. Baldwin, Yissel Carroll, Adena Sweeney, Sherry Rozas and Alexandra Casey. The sisters operate Mt. St. Helen’s School, and the action takes place in the simple set depicting the school auditorium. (Designed by the show’s able director, Travis Bryant.) The ladies displayed some fine singing with songs that are sometimes pleasing and sometimes not. (Musical Direction: Caleb Ackerman & Dave Englert).
What really propels the show are not the many cute, but forgettable, songs that no one would hum on the way home, but rather the cheerful nonsense from the nuns as they mingle playfully with the audience and weave their nutty tale of how their religious order evolved. Nunsense doesn’t have a serious bone in its body, but with a tap dance here (choreographer, Randy Bianchi), and a corny joke there, it projects a Vaudeville style of humor. The nuns even “passed the plate” church-style, and on the night I attended the audience reportedly coughed up several hundred dollars in support of the Montgomery County Animal Shelter. It was a nice way to support the local community while tickling the collective funny bone, and the Crighton Players will have more hilarity to offer with a production of You Can’t Take It With You running March 9th-25th.
For tickets & information call 936-539-4090 or visit: www.owentheatre.com.
Returning now to the ongoing delights of the uproarious Barefoot in the Park, director, Jillian Nolan and her fine Stage Right cast get a gold star in that arguably most difficult of all theatrical genres, comedy.
The 1960’s action plays out on the set design of Katt Gilcrease depicting a very modest fifth floor walk-up apartment on Manhattan’s East Side. That was pretty close to home for me, as I resided in a fifth floor walk-up apartment on Manhattan’s East Side while a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in the 1960’s. But my life then was not nearly as funny as Neil Simon’s witty play. Crys McClure and Richard C. Wilcox make a handsome couple as newlyweds, Corie and Paul.
They take up residence in this small apartment that leaves much to be desired while supplying plenty of laughs. Both McClure & Wilcox demonstrate great comic skill in bringing Simon’s characters to life, and they get abundant help in that regard from Stage Right dynamo, Carolyn Wong, who brilliantly took over the role of Corie’s mother, Ethel, when actress Yvonne Owen Nelson was suddenly taken ill just before the show opened. (Wong confided that she has never seen such graciousness as when Ms. Nelson congratulated her on Opening Night and presented her with flowers of appreciation for standing in). Ms. Wong is well known as a gifted comedienne and those talents kept the audience screaming with laughter whenever she was on stage.
That was never truer than when joined by Patrick Slagle as Victor Velasco, the oddball neighbor of Corie and Paul who lives in the attic above them. Corie would love to see her widowed Mom hooked up with Velasco, and that subplot keeps things hopping. Steven Dowell and Gerald Livingston add to the fun in supporting roles.
There is one later section of the play that sometimes becomes tedious when our young lovers begin quarreling amid Corie’s endless whining. But when her disillusioned Paul comes home intoxicated, Mr. Wilcox does one of the best drunk scenes ever and the laughs return. Why not drop by the Crighton and get your share of the laughter? You won’t be sorry!
BAREFOOT IN THE PARK continues through March 4th at the historic Crighton Theatre, 234 N. Main St., Downtown Conroe. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm with Sunday matinees at 2 pm. For Tickets & information call 936-441-SHOW or visit www.Stage-Right.org.