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‘Moon Over Buffalo’ on Port Royal stage: Rollicking, roirsterous, riotous, risible, rousing

Cast of “Moon Over Buffalo.”
Cast of “Moon Over Buffalo.” Submitted

Even when I try, I don’t think that I can properly express to you the vast number of hilarious situations that arise during the course of this ridiculously funny, hugely entertaining, massively physical situation comedy, “Moon Over Buffalo.”

Written by Ken Ludwig, and presented by the talented, energetic, over-the-top cast and associated crew, and further assembled by Luke Cleveland and Rodney Vaughn of Coastal Stage Productions in Port Royal, the show brims with captivating good humor.

The secret to the level of success of this rousing production, is that each actor is actually a comedian. All eight share a sense of comedic timing, which enriches the outcome of this diverting, piquant play.

It is directed by Debbie Reier, long associated with Coastal Stage in several capacities — as an actor and, on this occasion, as the director. She has the most amazing understanding of what’s funny, and what might make the fast-paced action even funnier.

Here, speaking of fast-paced play action, would be the perfect time to point out that when I say physical-situation comedy, I am dead serious. Look forward to endless ... in a good way ... falling down and falling off; lunging and grabbing; fist fights and strangle holds; swoons and tussling; athletic bickering; and, exquisitely timed to the gnat’s eyelash, door opening and slamming. There are a load of Cyrano de Bergerac references in the script, so you might look forward to some thrusting and parrying.

Just so you’ll know

Ken Ludwig’s story line (do you remember that he wrote “Lend Me a Tenor”?) jump starts at full throttle. We meet the cast members early on, and in moments, we begin to note and understand their varied idiosyncrasies and proclivities.

I’m going to start by introducing you to some characters I think of as the insiders ... somehow, they are related. George (Dave Falls), who not only, metaphorically, carries much of the water in the production, he drinks constantly from the river of Crown Royal, and is pivotal, start to finish. He and his wife, Charlotte (Kay Owen), are now traveling actors, trying desperately to stay in the limelight, and to maintain a position on the pathway to stardom. Falls and Owen offer impressively, a closeup look at the flawed and complicated twosome, while we watch their personalities unravel as they face their disappointing future.

Their daughter, Rosalind, (Christine Grefe), is problematic as she retreated from them and their acting goals, in favor of a more “conventional life.” She is now engaged to Howard (Jayme Brinson) a TV “10 percent chance of showers” weatherman. But don’t take your money off of him! Ethel (Gail Westerfield), who rounds out this kind of insider group, is hysterical as the sardonic, very hard of hearing, hard hitting mother of Charlotte.

Paul (Eric Johnson), on the cusp of insider/outsider status, delivers a kind of critical breath of reality and hope, as the stage manager for the company, aware of the bottom line. By the way, he is Rosalind’s former fiancé.

The two remaining characters, definite outsiders, are Richard (Ken Kooyman), a very, very wealthy attorney who is in love with Charlotte, as he tries to convince her to leave her husband, George. The other outsider ... though possibly becoming something of an insider ... is Eileen (Virginia Ledare Pingree), an actress in the company. So far, so good, but in seconds we come upon a big bump on her highway of life and her acting career, as we find that she was a player in a “one-night stand” with George, and, just so you’ll know, is expecting a baby brother or sister for Rosalind.

The leit motif in the production is the hope that there may be one last chance for George and Charlotte’s theater company, and indeed for their future. Miraculously, they find that the famous film director, Frank Capra, is coming to town to see their matinee performance, and possibly, if the outcome is successful, cast them in his movie remake of “The Scarlett Pimpernel.”

You know this is a comedy, a farce, but you can’t imagine what goes wrong before, during and after the all-important matinee. Mistaken identities, no sure answer whether the play is ”Cyrano de Bergerac” or “Private Lives,” the star who is impossibly drunk, wild improvisation, along with a trunkful of the resultant distractions, running gags, surprises, even a plot twist, which are so much a part of “Moon Over Buffalo.”

If you go

What: “Moon Over Buffalo”

When: Aug. 16-25. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays, with an added Saturday matinee on Aug. 24.

Where: AMVETS Performing Arts Center in Port Royal, 1831 Ribaut Road.

Tickets and information: 843-717-2175; or www.CoastalStageProductions.com.

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