The British Farce has been a tradition in theater since Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales." Certainly Shakespeare must have been inspired 200 years later, and Voltaire 200 years after that. When we think modern farce Noel Coward, "Fawlty Towers" or even Christopher Durang plays come to mind, but in many ways more mainstream fare like "Three's Company" and "The Hangover" are the American take on a traditional farce.
A farce is really just a gigantic secret or misunderstanding that must be covered up by dozens of lies and of course everything that could possibly go wrong does. Ray Cooney's farcical plays have been produced by many local and regional companies all over the world, but he remains relatively unknown to American audiences.
As a producer and director as well he has been responsible for over 30 West End productions, including "Whose Life is it Anyway?," "They're Playing Our Song," "Chicago," and "Children of a Lesser God." Cooney's biggest London success however was as the author of "Run For Your Wife," London's longest running comedy, also described by the New York Times as "one of the funniest plays ever written." Aside from Ray's full-plate career as a writer director and producer, he also finds time for acting and was the swing cast member in the last year of the "Run for your Wife" London run. Cooney also performed in the Broadway production.
Gina Shure, from left, Jeff Brackett (standing), John Messersmith and Hadley Garcia are part of the fun cast in “Run For Your Wife.”
JACK GRACE photo
"Wife" is the tale of plain John Smith. At first glance just an ordinary London cab driver, with the exception of two wives and two lives.
Smith (played by John Messersmith in the Maui OnStage production) owns his own cab and sets his own hours, essential if he's going to keep wives Mary and Barbara unaware. That all changes when Smith prevents an old woman from getting mugged and gets knocked unconscious. After being checked over at the hospital, he is taken home to wife Mary (Hadley Garcia) by a local police officer, Detective Troughton (Jim Oxborrow). The problem is Smith is supposed to be with Barbara (Gina Shure) that day. Realizing the precariousness of his precise schedule, he tries to get home to Barbara while keeping Mary and Detective Troughton from finding out. Needing assistance, Smith enlists his slacker neighbor, Stanley Gardener (Jeff Brackett), to help get him back on schedule.
One lie follows another and another, but the reuse appears to be working until the arrival of a second police officer. Detective Porterhouse (Derek Nakagawa), is there to investigate the case of two cab drivers named John Smith, with different addresses. As the lies pile up and insanity ensues, Stanley and John are left hopelessly buried in their attempts to keep all of the stories together.
I crashed a rehearsal last week where I laughed, watched and chatted with the cast during downtime. "This is one of the funniest ensemble pieces Maui has seen in a long time," said director Dale Button. Dale's laugh is one of the most infectious I've ever heard in my life and the production would be well served with him in the audience every night. Said ensemble member Jim Oxborrow, "Dale is a great director; when he says take three steps to the left or sit on an exact line he means it, and it's funnier as a result."
The laughs kept coming, I asked Messersmith if after the experience he would be interested in having two wives, before I could finish the sentence came an emphatic "No!" Cast member Lee Garrow offered, "The lines are fast and furious, they have to be for the comedy to work. One night the phone is ringing over and over and I forgot my line, so I called 'line.' " At that point Stage Manager Lina Kruger jumped in, "It was, hello." Apparently the cast needed a 10 minute laugh break after that. If the stop and go fun atmosphere I witnessed for an hour is any indication of how funny "Run for Your Wife," is going to be, comedy fans will not want to miss this one.
* Maui OnStage presents London's longest running comedy "Run For Your Wife," by Ray Cooney, directed by Dale Button. "Run For Your Wife," opens October 5 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays though Oct. 14 at the Historic Iao Theater. Reserved seating tickets are $15 to $28. Dinner packages available with Bistro Casanova. For tickets or more information, call 242-6969 or purchase online at mauionstage.com.
"Re-Unite!" The gala opening performance of Seabury Hall's new A'ali'ikuhonua Creative Arts Center happens at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Seabury Hall in Makawao. Seabury alumni in appearance include Kimball Wheeler, Rachel E. Berman, Alexa Fong, Rachel I. Berman, Amelia Nelson, Julia Cost, Casey Kalmenson, Mollie Bauckham, Zak Wass, Isaac Raz and Juliette Green. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 seniors and students, includes complimentary desserts and beverages. For more information or reservations call 573-1257.
ProArts, Inc. presents "Doubt: A Parable" by John Patrick Shanley ("Moonstruck"), directed by Kristi Scott. The Maui production stars Carla Pew, Kristin Jones, Michael Lanzo, and Kisha Milling. "Doubt" opens Friday September 28 with performances Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through Oct. 14 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Ask about the ProArts $15 Kama'aina nights on Saturday, September 29 and Thursdays Oct. 4 and 11 with valid Hawaii ID. Reserved seating tickets are $20. For reservations or more information call 463-6550 or visit proartspacific.com.
King Kekaulike High presents "Salem's Daughter," by Craig Sodaro, directed by Chris Kepler, Oct. 19 through Sunday Oct. 28. This chilling tale of suspense promises to draw the audience in and it doesn't let go until the surprising climax. Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays in the King Kekaulike cafetorium. Tickets are available at the door only one half hour before the show, adults $8, students $4.
Catch Canadian-Indian comedian and actor, Russell Peters in performance at the Castle Theater at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26. Peters is quickly becoming one of the more popular comedians in the world and his stand-up performances have been compared to Eddie Izzard's. His "Notorious World Tour 2012" has been selling out houses from Australia, England, The United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Singapore, South Africa, Norway, India, the Philippines, America and Canada. This one night only event is intended for mature audiences. Ticket prices range from $29.50 to $65. To purchase tickets visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at mauiarts.org.
There's still time to sign up for MAPA's Fall break performing arts camps. Ricky Pavao Jones will teach the Drama Camp for children age 5 to 9. Rebecca Owen instructs the Dance Camp for children age 6 to 10 in ballet, tap, hip hop, memorization, flexibility, coordination and teamwork. Katie Higuchi will conduct the Princess Dance Camp for age 3 to 5, where students can be a princess for a week and learn the basics of ballet through movement, games and crafts. The five day camps run from Monday, Oct. 1 though Friday, Oct. 5 and will culminate in a performance for family and friends on the last day. Classes run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the cost is $195 per student, $125 for Princess Dance Camp. To reserve your child's spot contact the MAPA offices at 244-8760.
Details, applications and regulations for the 3rd annual Maui Fringe Festival are now available at mauionstage.com. One act plays of 60 minutes or less may now be submitted for the three-day theater marathon to be held Feb. 1 through 3, 2013 at the Historic Iao Theater. Submissions will be considered until December 7 and the winning entries will be announced on December 21.