Theater Review: "Moon Over Buffalo"

By: 
Ben Miles

Written in 1995, by ken Ludwig, “Moon Over Buffalo” is a farce set in a theater in Buffalo, New York, circa 1953. One bit of the play’s notoriety, comes from the fact that its debut on the Great White Way marked comedy queen Carol Burnett’s return to Broadway after a three decade absence from the stage. Now local theatergoers have the opportunity to enjoy the show in a homegrown production at Fullerton’s Stages Theatre, through Sept. 17.

What makes a farce farcical is all in the timing. Signature features of a farce are misunderstandings, confused identities, the near simultaneous slamming of doors and a happy ending.

Ludwig’s script has all the elements. Like the far superior farce, “Noises Off,” “Buffalo” has as part of its conceit a backstage story. A low-budget theater troupe is running in repertory “Cyrano De Bergerac” and “Private Lives.” Two has been hams, longtime married couple George and Charlotte Hay (Brian J. Cook and Jamie Sowers expending much energy) are the self-aggrandizing stars of both shows.

Though the Hays’ are quite past their theatrical hay day, they still aspire to have their stardom ascend again. This bit of wishful thinking is encouraged when the couple learn that famed director Frank Capra may be traveling to Buffalo to see their shows.

Playfully directed by Amanda DeMaio, “Buffalo” features an eager cast – which also includes Emily Lappi as Roz; Sean Larson as Howard; Michael Koorstad as Paul; Judy Mina-Ballard as Ethel; Johnny Byron Hill as Richard; and Amanda Byrd as Eileen – and utilizes impressive stagecraft (Cari Nolan, set design; Jon Gaw, lighting design; Calvin Ballard, sound design; Andrea Birkholm, costuming; Johnny Byron Hill and Jill Johnson, fight choreography).

Celebrating its 25th year of productions, Stages Theatre is a notable and enduring component of the Orange County/ Long Beach intimate theater scene. Creative sweat, commitment and audience dedication is what’s kept Stages going for a quarter century. May they succeed well into the century and beyond.

“Moon Over Buffalo” continues through Sept. 17. Evening performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Matinees are Sundays at 2 p.m. For reservations call (714) 525-4484. For online ticketing and further information visit www.stagesoc.org.

ben@beachcomber.news

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