Jennifer Dinan as Edith Lambert, Clark Van Hekken as Harry Lambert in NEVER TOO LATE.

NEVER TOO LATE: Likable Fun at Playcrafters

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As a middle-aged man, I know one of the seminal truths about my gender…we do not respond well to sudden dramatic changes in our carefully-crafted life. When this occurs, we usually act in the worst way possible, angrily blaming everyone for the disaster that our life has become. To us it’s the end of the world…to the rest of the world, it can be quite funny. NEVER TOO LATE, the opening production of Playcrafter’s 2014 season, is a humorous example of this.

Harry Lambert (portrayed by the ever-likable Clark Van Hekken) has a successful lumber business, a beautiful home next door to the town mayor (Ron Lake), his industrious wife Edith (Jennifer Dinan), a lovely if somewhat-spoiled 20-something daughter Kate (Emily West), son-in-law Charlie (Walter March) who works for Harry, and life is good. Harry’s life is turned upside-down by the news that Edith is pregnant. Trying to be supportive (in his way, at least), Harry tells Edith that she can do whatever she likes to get the nursery set up…of course, Harry believes this is only fresh wallpaper, but Edith (exercising her newly-rediscovered right to write checks) completely redesigns the room with the help of a contractor (Greg Warchol.) Add in Edith’s friend Grace (Phyllis Blair), her husband James (Lake performing double duty) and a friendly Police Officer (Warchol also doing double work) and mix vigorously.

The original Broadway production of this play was in 1962, and there certainly is some dust on the storyline. It’s sweet and charming, if not terribly hilarious, but it allows Van Hekken to do what he does best…chew the scenery, rail against the indignities heaped on his character, and make the audience smile at his antics. Dinan is sweet and a bit flighty as Edith, and takes all of Harry’s antics in stride as she tests out spreading her wings a bit. West is whiny and spoiled, and perhaps a bit too angry for the feel of the production, but seeing her go from debutante to housewife was fun. March is perhaps too much of a milquetoast through most of the production…I would like to see a bit stronger character, but he does come through at the end. Lake and Warchol give solid performances, and Blair is a hidden delight in the role of the supportive friend.

Director Courtney Katz designed a beautiful and functional set for this production. I was struck by the effective use of the space as soon as I entered the theatre. The production values of the show were very good in all…lighting and sound were effective, and again, the use of the space was very good. There were some moments in the show where I thought an opportunity to enhance the humor were missed, but perhaps that was intentional, with Katz making the intentional decision to allow the action to flow without enhancements.

All in all, this was a fun evening at the theatre…a few belly laughs, but lots of chuckles.

Comedy by Sumner Arthur Long
Directed by Courtney Katz
May 1 – 17, 2014
Playcrafters of Skippack
2011 Store Rd
Skippack, PA 19474

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Walter Bender

Walter Bender

Walter Bender is a veteran of over 35 years performing all over the country. He attended Texas Lutheran University as a Theatre Arts and Vocal Performance major. While in college he toured much of the Southern and Western states with various acting and singing groups. He appeared briefly on radio in San Antonio and on TV in Miami while in college. Moving back to PA, he has performed in well over 100 amateur and professional theatrical productions, and directed dozens more throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Among his favorite roles are Lt. Colonel Jessup (A Few Good Men), Daddy Warbucks (Annie), and most recently he was George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Arguably his favorite theatrical memory was creating the role of Alan Frick in A Fast Train to Heaven for Bill Gottshall Productions. He is co-founder of Spring-Ford Community Theater, has served as Managing Director of 2 different theaters, Artistic Director of a third and President of another. He worked for the Delaware Valley Arts Institute, where he worked with many wonderful artists and instructors, culminating in being selected to facilitate a post-graduate course at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Currently he serves on the board of directors for dcp theatre as their Director of Corporate Communications.

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