A View from the Cliff: “Plaza Suite” at RTC

A torrential downpour couldn’t dampen the mood at Rockaway Theatre Company’s latest production on Friday evening, October 9. The hilarious 1960’s Neil Simon comedy “Plaza Suite” offers three vignettes that are completely unconnected except for the same suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Director Peggy Page and Producer Susan Jasper utilize proven veteran performers to anchor each separate story. The outstanding set with cutaway walls (Tony Homsey, Cliff Hesse and crew) gives the illusion of a luxury hotel rooms overlooking Manhattan. Costumes (Kerry O’Connor) echo the era perfectly.

The actors happily avoid an overzealous slapstick presentation. They dodge frantic delivery of lines which could have devoured the wit and wisdom of the scenes.  Instead, the clever dialogue speaks for itself. As proof, the audience bursts into laughter in all the right places.

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Theatre Company
Photo courtesy of Rockaway Theatre Company

In Act I, frustrated housewife Karen (Jodee Timpone) tries to rekindle her husband Sam’s (Frank Freeman) waning interest. Could his private secretary Jean McCormack (Jessica Mintzes) have something to do with it? Even the bellhop (Dante Rei) and the waiter (James Dalid) are thrown into the melee.

Act II takes a more lascivious look at human nature. Childhood sweethearts Jesse (Stephen Ryan) and Muriel (Kerry O’Connor) reunite at the Plaza. Jesse is a Hollywood “player” while Muriel is a suburban housewife. The scene is a tongue-in-cheek lesson in smooth talking seduction. Will Jesse’s tried and true talents overcome Muriel’s middle class scruples?

In Act III, the Hubleys (Ruth Graves, David Risley) are proud parents of their soon to be married daughter Mimsey (Jessica Mintzes). Unfortunately, a serious case of cold feet puts the entire ceremony on hold.  The groom (Dante Rei) may have the only solution to this comical conundrum.  Physical humor is abundant as the frazzled father climbs out the window and tears his rented tuxedo.

Kudos as well to behind-the-scenes talent including Suzanne Riggs, stage manager and many more. The troupe’s next performance is just a few weeks away.  Their interpretation of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” promises to be a challenging and entertaining project.  For information call the RTC hotline at (718) 374-6400, surf to www.rockawaytheatrecompany.com or like them on Facebook.  As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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