Friday June 23rd 2017

“Cold Cold Feet”

Every once in awhile a playwright looks back at his writings and decides to take a shot at updating and changing it- not the actual plot, but the scenes that got him to the conclusion. Back in 2006, a young playwright, Tony Fiorentino wrote a play titled “Cold,Cold Feet”, a sort of Ken Ludwigish farce dealing with a young man on the eve of his wedding day feeling that perhaps this is not what  he should be doing. It was a cute little show and has played in a few spots since then, but Fiorentino must have looked at the world today and decided he needed to add the Internet and Face-book to his story. While it is still a cute production, it is not as powerful as it might be, in the true Ludwig fashion; slamming doors,characters being other than who they are. Yes, he covers a lot of ground in this new production now on stage at Stage 773 ( formerly the Theatre Building Chicago). Fiorentino also takes the helm as director ( in the original production, I think he also played the lead role) and sometimes it is better to have a director who is not also the creator as he or she would see things in a different light. What the writer feels is funny, may not have the same impact on a outsider and a new pair of eyes may be what this play really needs to succeed.

While, Tony himself has based this story on the many weddings he has been associated with as a groomsman, ( I am sure none were as wild as this) the added comic touches and slapstick do make for a funny 80 minutes of entertainment. Benny (  Joe Bianco) is about to get married and is working on his vows in his Vegas suite along with his brother/best man( A very funny performance by Michael Woods). Benny is having second thoughts about getting married and is somewhat upset about his bachelor party going bad when the strippers ordered did not show up. As he and Carl are debating getting to the rehearsal , three strippers show up. It turns out one is dyslexic and they went to the wrong room. These three ladies (Jennifer T. Grubb as April,Laura Rauh as June and the hyterical Florence Ann Romano as Monday are major scene stealers as well as absolutely gorgeous). Their bodyguard, Harvey ( a great comic touch by Rob Grabowski) who is there to make sure they get paid also gets into the confusion over who he is and goes from bird trainer to plumber in this very convoluted story.

While Benny allows the three ladies ( known as The time of your life) stay, since they have to pay anyway, the entire family keeps coming to the suite to find out what is causing the delay, Benny’s sister Mary (Briggitte Ditmars), Their mother ( a delightful performance by Marie Goodkin), the priest ( deftly handled by Mike O’Brien), Nigel Sinclair, the dove trainer who is choreographing the doves to be a part of the ceremony ( a clver little bit by the very funny and campy Joel Thompson) and last but not least, in the final scene, Benny’s betrothed,Lindsay ( a solid job by Kieran Welsh-Phillips) who makes the most of her part and proves there is no such thing as a small part, only small actors. In fact, some of the smaller roles in this play have some of the best lines!

While the play is not as farcical as it might be, the audience on a Sunday afternoon ( probably one of the nicest Sundays of the year) came out to have a good time and they did. The one known fact  that is a constant in “farce” is that after all the running around and the mistaken identities are cleared up, there is always a happy ending- this is a sure thing. The set by Roger Wykes is very realistic and the furniture and props that become a strong part of the show (Lindsay Monahan), and there are many, all work. Emma Weber’s costumes are adorable and Frank Rose’s lighting adds to the completeness of this production. The  curtain call is adorable and does use a strobe light as each of the characters does remain in character to take their bows. This is another Ludwig technique and while this is not an earth shattering experience, it is a show that will allow you to laugh and for many, a trip down memory lane. There is more to the character of Benny, but for the little extras and the crazy stories his brother makes up to keep the action going, you need to get to the theater and see “Cold Cold Feet”.

This production will only be here through June 5th with performances as follows:

Thursday,Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.

Stage 773 is located at 1225 West Belmont and ticket which are only $25 can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 773-327-5252 or online at www.stage773.org

There is street parking,valet parking and if you have dinner at Cooper’s across the street, they offer free parking

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