FATHER OF THE BRIDE Is Nostalgic and Fun

by Jessica Martin

FATHER OF THE BRIDE, presented by the Sketch Club Players of Woodbury, is a funny and nostalgic trip back to the early 1950s. If you were around then, it might remind you of the television sitcoms of the era, in which Mom was always impeccably groomed and dressed, the kids never did anything worse than get a little dirty, and the family even had a maid. And Dad could get angry without using foul language. But you don’t have to be “of a certain age” to enjoy this play; it’s entertainment for the entire family.

Ron Kelly, Carolyn Beatty in FATHER OF THE BRIDE at Sketch Club Players.

Of course, the play is about a wedding. Even in 1951, long before the days of wedding planners and “bridezillas,” a wedding was a big deal. But in this case Buckley, the bridegroom, a quiet and serious young man, feels that it is a private affair. He would like nothing better than to drive out into the country with his bride, Kay, find a little ivy-covered church, and get married just as they are. Kay’s father, Stanley Banks, thinks that’s a great idea, but she doesn’t. She tearfully explains that she has always dreamed of a wedding gown, bridesmaids, and all the trimmings. Buckley agrees reluctantly, but makes her promise to keep the guest list at 50. However, the list keeps expanding as each family member sneaks cards into the file. Even little brother Tommy wants to invite his friends. The “small family wedding” threatens to grow huge. Stanley’s secretary, who has been handling the invitations, quits in a fury. Presents, surprises and disasters pile up, and so do prospective bills for poor Stanley—from the florist, photographer, caterer, and so forth. And wait until you see the caterer’s representative. Does everything turn out well? What do you think?

Ron Kelly, Marti Palmieri, Laura Bongiovanni, Carolyn Beatty in a scene from Sketch Club Players' FATHER OF THE BRIDE running in Woodbury NJ through June 12.

The cast is excellent. Ron Kelly (Stanley) is believably explosive and tender at the appropriate moments. Laura Bongiovanni (Ellie) is the perfect wife and mother of the 50s, and Carolyn Beatty is lovely and lovestruck as Kay, the daughter and bride-to-be. Her fiancé, Buckley, is earnestly and touchingly played by Richard Schockley. A favorite with the audience was Jake Faragalli as young Tommy, a natural actor if there ever was one. Jake’s dad, Scott, appeared as a workman. Another favorite was James Eckstein as the simpering Mr. Missoula, the caterer’s man. And then there’s Erich Schmaal as big brother Ben—but there just isn’t room to mention everyone in the large cast. Under the fast-paced direction of Steve Allen, they made a relatively long play (by today’s standards) seem not too long.

If you are looking for fine family entertainment, hard to find on the stage these days, FATHER OF THE BRIDE fills the bill.

by Caroline Francke
Directed by Steve Allen
June 9, 10, & 11, 2011 at 8 p.m.,
June 12, 2011 at 2 p.m.
Sketch Club Players
433 Glover Street
Woodbury, NJ 08096-2623

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