‘Moon’ a charming comedy of errors
District Theater’s “Moon Over Buffalo” is a charming trifle, a comedy of errors and misunderstandings and ensuing hijinks made most entertaining by the goofy performances of its cast, particularly its leads. It’s infectious fun, a “Three’s Company” episode writ large, fluffy and ephemeral but a sweet escapism.
Written by Ken Ludwig, “Moon” rises with the setting suns of two fading stars of stage, Charlotte (Nancy Sheesley Teerlinck) and George (Michael Kelly), who are attempting to keep up with the rising medium of film and failing miserably. Distressed and salty over being passed over by Hollywood, they’re treading about in fading fame upon the boards of ever-shrinking theaters.
But lo and behold, fate finally smiles their way, leading them to the chance to resurrect their careers and gain a foothold in Hollywood by performing for esteemed silver screen director Frank Capra. Their only mission? Not to screw up one performance. Think they screw up that one performance? Oh hell yes they do. And therein lies the fun.
Thrown into the quickly churning mix are a number of subplots involving Roz (Alexis Greene), the daughter of George and Charlotte, Ethel, Charlotte’s mother (Susan McPeters), Howard (Christopher Tracy), Richard (Doug Kutzli), Eileen (Sara Kutzli), and Paul (Ian Brown).
As is typically the case in so many comedies of this sort, Roz is engaged, but to the wrong guy, Howard, an inoffensive milquetoasty sort, a banal weatherman who promises to give her the steady but unexciting life she believes she craves in reaction to the craziness her parents have always presented her.
But within her heart that craziness still calls out, and it does so through her lingering attraction to her old love, Paul, the long-time stage manager for her parents. Throw into the mix an oily lawyer/agent, Richard, who is having an affair with Charlotte and wants to run off with her, and the ditzy actress, Eileen, who is the side girl for George, and you’ve got a potent mix for madness and hijinks.
The show starts off a bit slow, taking a while to get going, but once it kicks in, the laughs really start rolling as the pace escalates. Kelly and Teerlinck are especially brilliant at the lightning-fast interplay and physical comedy that brings the funny again and again, and it’s worth the price of admission to see them alone. The supporting cast does a solid job, and of particular note is Doug Kutzli’s fantastic work as Richard. It’s obvious Kutzli has done his research and watched a number of black and white films in this era and genre, because he’s got his character archetype down pat. The arch, supercilious, oily conniver is a standby of films of the ‘30s and ‘40s and Kutzli has him nailed from the mannerisms to his pompous intonations of speech. Bravo, my friend, bravo.
Tracy is likewise good as the cluelessly bilious weatherman, Sara Kutzli is bubbleheaded as the goofball side dish, and Greene and Brown pretty much hit the typical bland young couple on the head, reminiscent in particular to the same human tropes in Marx Brothers’ movies.
Directed with quick wit and brisk pacing by Heather Schmidt, stage managed and assistant directed nicely by J-Ca Blaum and produced with usual style by District mastermind Tristan Tapscott, “Moon” is a fun bit of escapism. It’s fun and airy and goofy and a nice bit of fluff for a weekend night. And sometimes that’s what you want and need. If that’s what you want and need, get yourself some tickets and give it a whirl. You’ll have fun, and you can thank me later.
“Moon Over Buffalo”
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes before showtime and all tickets are $20.
District Theater, 1724 4th Ave., Rock Island
Reservations can be made by visiting www.districttheatre.com