Monday, March 11, 2013

Fleetwood Community Theatre delivers another rollicking farce with ‘Fox On The Fairway’

The cast of  "The Fox on the Fairway"

By Cheryl Thornburg
Community theater is a labor of love and there’s plenty of it in Fleetwood Community Theatre’s current production of Ken Luwdig’s “The Fox On The Fairway.”
A talented cast with actors from all over Berks County bring Ludwig’s zany farce to a new location, the stage at St. John’s Lutheran church in downtown Kutztown.
There’s plenty of chicanery and plotting in this tale of a rivalry between two country clubs battling it out in an annual golf tournament and the subplots of who loves whom add another dimension to this action-packed comedy.
Brian Miller plays Henry Bingham, the uptight director of Quail Valley Country Club, whose job is on the line if the club loses for the sixth year in a row.  He thinks his newest member, an excellent golfer, is just the ticket to a sure win and he bets his arch rival $100,000 and his wife’s antique shop. What he doesn’t know is the new member has jumped ship and joined the other side with Crouching Squirrel Golf and Racquet Club.  Brian Miller is appropriately stiff and condescending in this role in perfect contrast to his longtime rival Dickie Bell, played to weasely perfection by Stan Durlak.
Bingham seems to find a solution to his dilemma when he discovers that his newest employee, a naïve young man named Justin Hicks, is a great golfer. Bingham manages to make him a member so he can compete in the tournament.
Steve Miller plays Hicks with such a likable sincerity that the audience is rooting for him in both the tournament and his love life.
The latter comes in the form of Melissa Kopicz as Louise Heindbedder, a waitress at the club.  The two play off each other well and Kopicz demonstrates a real flair for comedy.
Elizabeth Limper has one of the most fun roles to play as Pamela Peabody a flirty Quail Valley board member and ex-wife of Dickie Bell. Limper makes the most of this sexy, vindictive ex.
Bingham’s wife,  Muriel,  played by Cheryl Bleiler, is only heard as a garbled voice over the phone in the first act, but makes her presence known when she takes the stage full steam ahead in the second act. Her interaction with Brian Miller as her husband is just plain fun to watch.
Unseen, but often heard, Bob Barskey adds his own special brand of comedy to his voice-overs as the club’s announcer.
“The Fox On The Fairway’ may not be as well known as Ludwig’s other plays such as  “Lend me a Tenor” and  “Leading Ladies,” but it is every bit as funny and outrageous with lots of twists and turns that take the audience to a satisfying and hilarious conclusion.
 “The Fox On The Fairway” continues this weekend at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 201 E. Main St., Kutztown, Friday at 7:30 p.m  Saturday’s show also offers a Dinner & Show performance with dinner at 6:30 p.m., and the show at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday matinee is at 3 p.m. March 17. The church is easy to find and there is ample parking in a lot behind the church on South Maple Street.
Tickets are $15 for the show only and $30 for the dinner and show can be purchased at or by calling 1-800-838-3006. Dinner & Show tickets must be made in advance. Show only tickets can be purchased at the door as cash only sales.

Find your way to Pottstown for 'Lost in Yonkers'

Bella, played by Shawneen Rowe, center with her two nephews, Artie, Sebastian Coates, left, and Jay, Tom Aglio Jr., right. Photos by John Daggett

 By Cheryl Thornburg

 There is no doubt that Neil Simon deserved the Pulitzer Prize for  “Lost in Yonkers.”  With its clever dialogue that moves seamlessly from being humorous to poignant and characters that are unique and a little odd, yet very familiar, it surpasses his earlier works such as “Barefoot in The Park” and “The Odd Couple” and takes his art to a whole new level.
Barbara Hannevig as Grandma Kurnitz
All of his extraordinary words, however, would have little impact without an extraordinarily talented cast to deliver them, and director Brian Drillinger has found just such a cast for Steel River Playhouse’s current production in Pottstown.
Simon’s story of Jay and Artie, two Jewish boys who are left to stay in Yonkers, N.Y., with their stern and cold grandmother while their father is traveling for work in 1942, has lasting and universal appeal. Bringing Jay and Artie to life are two young actors Tom Aglio Jr. as Jay the older brother and 13-year-old Sebastian Coates as Arty.  The brotherly camaraderie between the two is quite believable. Coates manages to say a lot just with facial expressions that are perfectly suited to the somewhat rebellious young Artie. He and Aglio deliver line after line with such sincerity that the audience can’t help but root for them.
This is a coming-of-age story for both boys as they discover a lot about themselves and their family. Although their Aunt Bella is 35, this is sort of a coming-of-age story for her as well.
Shawneen Rowe lights up the stage with a brilliant performance as Bella, the boys’ not-quite-all-there aunt, whose child-like enthusiasm makes her one of Simon’s most loveable characters. Rowe is riveting in the second act as Bella struggles to assert herself and stand up to her intractable mother.
In contrast to Bella’s warm and outgoing personality is the harsh and formidable Grandma Kurnitz, played to perfection by Barbara Hannevig. She strikes fear into every character on stage and triggers memories in audience members of loved ones or teachers who could stop you dead in your tracks with just a look.
Brian Gildea evokes sympathy as Eddie, the boys’ father, who is forced to leave the boys for 10 months to pay off debts he incurred for the care for his wife before she died. The familial chemistry rings true, particularly as he reluctantly explains to the boys why he has to leave them behind.
Jarad Benn plays Eddie’s brother, Uncle Louie, who is a somewhat disreputable guy, a henchman for a local gangster.  And yet he’s family and he takes the boys under his wing and offers tips on how to survive living with grandma. Benn’s Louie is boisterous and likeable and adds another dimension to this dysfunctional family.
Shawneen Rowe, right, as Bella confronting her family.
Rounding out the family circle is Andrea Frassoni as Aunt Gert, a somewhat nervous young woman who no longer lives at home, but has strange breathing reactions when she visits. Frassoni shows a definite flair for comedy and manages to get lots of laughs, even though she is not on stage as much as the other actors.
Drillinger’s direction has forged a memorable production in just a short few weeks. Ripples of laughter could be heard throughout the entire course of the play, punctuated by silence as painfully personal dramatic moments captivated the audience’s attention.
Jarad Been as Uncle Louie., center, with Sebastian Coates,
left, and Tom Aglio Jr., right.
A team of first-rate, set, lighting, sound and costume designers add to the success of this show. Music from the ’40s sets the tone of the era and moves the plot forward through set changes while an impeccably appointed set recreates Grandma’s living room with its huge antique radio and doily-covered furniture. The costumes have a vintage feel that enhances the actors’ performances. Put it all together and you have another Steel River Playhouse total-package production that is worthy of any stage and worth the price of the ticket and a trip to Pottstown.
 “Lost in Yonkers” continues through March 24. Thursday performances are at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $23.  Steel River is located at 245 E. High St., Pottstown. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit   or call 610-970-1199.

Monday, March 4, 2013

On stage in March



Allentown Civic Theatre presents the Pulitzer Prize-winning “August: Osage County” in Civic’s Nineteenth Street Theatre March 1-10. For more information,  go to

Pines Dinner Theatre, 448 N. 17th St., Allentown (610-433-2333) presents “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” through March 10 and Irving Berlin’s “I Love Piano” March 21 through June 2.


Act II Playhouse, Ambler presents “Assassin through March 17 (215-654-0200) or


Ephrata Performing Arts Center's Sharadin-Bigler Theater, Cocalico Street, Ephrata (717-733-7966) presents Angels in America,” Part I: Millennium Approaches, March 7 – 17, Part II: Perestroika, March 28 - April 6.


Fleetwoof Community Theatre presents “The Fox on the Fairway” at St John's Lutheran Church, 201 E. Main St, Kutztown, March 8 through 17.. There are Dinner & Show opportunities for both of the Saturday performances. Tickets for the dinner MUST be reserved/purchased by 7 p.m. the Monday before. Tickets will still be available at the door as cash only sales. General admission tickets are $15 and dinner show tickets are $30. There is a small processing fee (about $2) added per ticket for online purchases. Call 1-800-838-3006


The Village Players of Hatboro present  “All My Sons” March 8 through March 23. Call the box office at 215-675-6774 to reserve your seats.


People’s Light & Theatre, 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern (610-644-3500) presents “The Trip to Bountiful” March 13 – April 7. For tickets, call  610.644.3500. For more information go to 


The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, presents “The Addams Family” March 19-24. The Box Office is open daily from 10 a.m. to  6 p.m. The Call Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 215-893-1999 to purchase tickets by phone. Visit for more information.

Walnut Street Theatre presents the classic Good People March 12 – April 28 on the WST main stage.

Walnut Street Theatre production of “Vincent in Brixton” in the Independence Studio through March 10.

Also on the Independence Studio stage will be the world premiere of “ The Prescott Method: Easy Steps to Perfect Bread Baking, Every Time”  March 26 through April 14.

For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting or Ticketmaster.

Lantern Theater Company presents William Shakespeare's “Henry V  March 14 through April 14. Tickets are $20 - $38 and are available online at or by calling the Lantern Box Office at (215) 829-0395. $10 student rush tickets are available 10 minutes before curtain with valid ID; cash only. Additional discounts are available for seniors, groups of 10 or more, and current/former members of the U.S. military. Lantern Theater Company is located at St. Stephen's Theater, 10th & Ludlow Streets in Center City Philadelphia.


Steel River Playhouse presents “Lost in Yonkers” March 7-24. For more information, call 610-970-1199 or go to


Reading Community Theatre presents “Hats” at the Miller Center march 9-10. Tickets for HATS are not available through the RCP website, please go to to purchase tickets to this show.

Genesius Theatre presents a staged reading  of “Tuesdays With Morrie” March 29 and 30 at the theater at 10th and Walnut Streets in Reading. For information, call 610-371-8151 or go to

To have your production listed here, email information to Cheryl Thornburg at