Greater Lewisville Community Theatre’s rendition of Room Service by John Murray & Allen Boretz was truly a joy to watch. It was such a good performance I left the theatre wanting to go watch the 1938 movie version starring The Marx Brothers to see if it was performed as well. The play takes place in 1937 New York and follows the adventures of Gordon Miller, played by Nelson Wilson, a down on his luck Broadway producer trying to find a backer for his newest play “Godspeed”. Miller and his group are about to be locked out of the hotel they have been staying in if they can’t find the means to cover the hotel bill within the next couple of hours.
The tension increases when the regional hotel director, Gregory Wagner, becomes bent on throwing out the entire cast and crew immediately. The confusion mounts as Leo Davis, the playwright for “Godspeed”, joins the fray. Naïve Davis is duped into believing that everything is all right and that the play will go on. The play culminates as a backer is finally obtained and the manager closes in. Miller, as the leader for the group, only has to hold out long enough in order to get the money from the backer before the manager pitches them to the street.
The entire play takes place in Gordon Miller’s hotel room in the White Way Hotel. The set design was wonderful. The walls were painted in a gold color reminiscent of a grand hotel in the 1930’s. However, the set designers added a few touches such as a dirty outline of a missing picture to show that the hotel had seen better days. I felt that the hotel room was symbolic of Gordon Miller’s character. A wondrous hotel that had seen better days struggling for renewed glory.
The costuming was well done. Each piece fit well and reflected the time period, with men in three piece suits, fedora and the women clothed in flowery dresses.
The most remarkable part of this play was the acting. The actors timing was impeccable and the play was only better for it. The jokes and gags flew with precision. The result was a perfectly choreographed comedic performance. Nelson Wilson gave an inspiring performance as Gordon Miller, the down but not out producer. The sly wit and dry humor with which he carried the character reminded me of Moe Howard, Groucho Marx, or William “Bud” Abbott.
Tom DeWester, as Harry Binion, was a great casting choice. DeWester’s zany antics and expressions were perfect compliments to the straight man Wilson portrayed. DeWester did a masterful job when called upon to act crazy or weird.
To round out the main three characters, Charles Beachley played Faker Englund. Faker Englund is the go to man for getting things done, but at times seems a little slow and yet whimsical, like a good natured, kind hearted thug. Beachley was spot on with his portrayal and added volumes to the play. When he showed up and removed his jacket only wearing a tie and collar cutout for a shirt it was priceless.
Craig Boleman played Joseph Gribble, the brother-in-law to Gordon Miller and the current hotel manager. I got the impression that Gribble is a good hearted helpful man but with no backbone when it came to standing up to his boss, Gregory Wagner. As the tension mounts between Wagner trying to collect the hotel bill and Miller trying to avoid the confrontation until he has a backer, Gribble begins to slowly breakdown from stress. Gribble is caught up in the age old battle between family and work. Boleman did a great job with his inflections and erratic mannerisms to get the point across of Gribble’s imminent breakdown that culminated in him hiding under a blanket muttering to himself.
Michael McCray did a superb job portraying the naïve, Oswegonian playwright Leo Davis. When he spoke to his mother on the phone about how he possibly broke her heart, he sounded very sincere and apologetic. His longing glances to Hilda Manney as a love interest were very small town boyish, and his charm seemed to scream “take advantage of me New York”. I was very impressed with his subtlety and the nervous, inexperienced way the character viewed the world.
Tom Moore, as Gregory Wagner, was another powerful performer. Gregory Wagner was the hotel director that showed up in order to drag the hotel back into the “black”. I left the theatre thinking Wagner reminded me a lot of Mr. Spacely from the Jetsons. Of course Moore was a great deal taller than Mr. Spacely, so the feeling that I got was more based on the attitude. Wagner ran around yelling, cursing and basically steamrolling over anyone that got in his way. He was the stereotypical blow hard boss that yelled more than he talked. Moore did an outstanding job.
There were a few supporting parts that carried the play forward, and all the actors did a wonderful job. Bill Nolte, as Sasha Smirnoff the waiter/actor, did an incredible job. His Russian accent never wavered. Amber Quinn as Christine Marlowe, Gordon Miller’s actress girlfriend, was another supporting character with a very good accent that felt true. Noelle Fabian as Hilda Manney, gave a wonderful performance as a fellow Oswegonian small town girl living in the big city. Her coy smiles towards Leo Davis lent a small town charm to the play. Bob Shapiro as Simon Jenkins, the agent for the backer Zachary Fisk, Jordan Pokladnik as Timothy Hogarth, the collection agent for the We Never Sleep collection agency, Andrew Burns as Dr. Glass and George Redford as Senator Blake all put in great supporting performances.
In fact, the entire play from cast to costumes was incredible. I would feel remiss if I did not give deserved kudos to Director Harry Friedman, for pulling this cast together. I left the theatre feeling upbeat, positive and thinking that it would be fun to see the play again. Greater Lewisville Community Theatre did an outstanding job with their performance of Room Service. The play felt fresh, lively and inspired.
The cast worked like a well oiled machine. The play has a short run through February 26th so get to the theatre quickly…GODSPEED!
by John Murray & Allen Boretz
Greater Lewisville Community Theatre
Director – Harry R. Friedman
Assistant Director – Sherrie Wollenhaupt
Stage Manger/Props – Luis Lujan
Costume Design – Connie Salsman
Set Design – Ellen & Jeff Mizener
Lighting Design – John Damian, Sr.
Set Construction – Charles Beachley, john Damian, Sr., John Fierke, Travis Fierke, Harry R. Friedman, Luis Lujan, Jeff mizener, Ellen Mizener, Tom Moore, Bill nolte, George Redford, bob Shapiro
Light Board Operator – Chris Buras
Costume Assistant – Alisa Dunn
Sasha Smirnoff – Bill Nolte
Gordon Miller – Nelson Wilson
Joseph Gribble – Craig Boleman
Harry Binion – Tom DeWester
Faker Englund – Charles Beachley
Christine Marlowe – Amber Quinn
Leo Davis – Michael McCray
Hilda Manney – Noelle Fabian
Gregory Wagner – Tom Moore
Simon Jenkins – Bob Shapiro
Timothy Hogarth – Jordan Pokladnik
Dr. Glass – Andrew Burns
Bank Messenger – Daniel Elmen
Senator Blake – George Redford
Reviewed performance on Friday, February 10th, 2012
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm
For tickets and information please call 972-221-SHOW (7469)
or go to www.glct.org.