THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN: A “Who Dunnit” at Newtown Arts Company

by Jean Brenner

C.T. Troilo and Stuart Myles in a scene from Newtown Arts Company's production of THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN.

Bucks County’s Newtown Arts Company will celebrate its 30th anniversary season next year. A form inserted in the program asks people to select which of its 33 shows produced over the past three decades they would like to see repeated in 2013.

There are some good show titles on that list, almost all of which are wholesome, family shows…shows worth doing… shows which most people would be happy to see performed well.

THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN is not in the same league as the shows NAC has done before, inviting the age-old question: “Is the play worth doing?” If not, why do it?

Newtown Arts Company has featured some really fine local actors in shows over the years. These actors volunteer long hours rehearsing with the goal of performing to appreciative audiences in the historic Newtown Theater. That is terrific! But, perplexing me is why Newtown Arts selected this sophomoric script.

In spite of the play’s silliness, local actor Stuart Myles pulls off a fine Chief Inspector Clouseau, the character made popular by Peter Sellers in the film. Myles handles the demanding role and French accent well, while pulling off some difficult physical stunts that require perfect timing.

C.T. Troilo as Dreyfus, a lunatic escaped from the mental facility, is fun to watch as he gradually goes over the top in his effort to vaporize his arch-enemy Clouseau.

Margaret DeAngelis, as Olga, the femme fatale, is delightful to see and watch. Hers is a strange, conflicted character. Without experience and control, an actress might play the role in a sloppy manner; however, DeAngelis knew what she was doing. Without her excellence, the play would be even less interesting.

Other actors need to be mentioned: Ann D’Silva is excellent in playing three very different roles, including performing physical combat. David Danner also plays three different roles, the funniest of which is Ainsley Jarvis, a female impersonator who is stabbed and sort-of dies on stage. Robert Abrahamson, Elliot Simmons, Larry Krevitz play their various roles quite well, as do many others in the cast.

Director Wendy Force McBride was assisted in staging the physical requirements by J. David Brimmer, fight director/master and Joe McKernan, fight choreographer.

Jim Banar produced the show along with Jane DeKorte who also did costumes. Jackie Tamburrino is Stage Manager, assisted by Courtney Schodowski. Newcomer Madison Decker did a good job with the lighting.

One would think that with all those good people with outstanding credits, the play might have been good, maybe even entertaining.

Finally, mention needs to be made of the 18 set changes (Yes, 18!) performed in dim lights to Pink Panther theme music. With curtains open, stage hands dressed in pajama-like pink panther costumes danced, turned, jigged, pushed and pulled furniture, set pieces, flourishing table clothes and blankets around the stage with semi-choreographed moves. They were on stage more than some of the actors.

On opening night, the audience became impatient and restless as set changes took more than twenty minutes of the play’s total run time. It is my understanding that the playwright, William Gleason, wrote instructions into the play about how set changes should be done. Sigh.

Actors, you are to be commended for your work, to your dedication to your craft.

Newtown Arts Company, you need to choose plays that are worth the talent’s time. It grieves me to think that your audiences will now suppose they have seen “theater.”

by William Gleason
Directed by Wendy Force McBride
February 9 – 15, 2012
215-860-7058 or 1-800-838-3006
Performing at The Newtown Theatre
120 North State Street, Newtown, PA 18940


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Stacey Berman February 11, 2012 - 12:30 pm

I was able to catch the show with a friend and had so much fun, I will go back again tonight with my husband and more family and friends. All the acting was spectacular, engaging, funny, and craftful, especially by Margaret DeAngelis/Olga. Judging by the packed house and the laughter, I am not alone in my thoughts here.

A bit confused by your call for loftiness in the theater. Yes the humor was silly, but that’s exactly the point, isn’t it? No one goes to see The Pink Panther if they want “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” or “Children of a Lesser God”, they go to the Pink Panther for belly laughs, silliness and lose oneself for a few hours in the charm. This play provided that and then some. I would encourage anybody who wants to allow themselves to giggle a little and escape in classic fun, go see this (twice!). If you expect anything else from the Pink Panther – you’re missing the whole point. Great show!

MJ February 11, 2012 - 1:43 pm

why be so hard on local theater? the pink panther is filled with sophormic humor.. that’s the idea of the “pink panther”. The set changes may have taken a little longer than expected, but I thought it was clever they way it was weaved into the show. the effort of the cast was terrific, they were all spot on and fun to watch. I saw opening night with a lighter audience and everyone that I spoke with enjoyed it. the idea of local theater is to have the support of the community. if reviews like this come out, people may decide not to go and I’m wondering how that helps and shows support. I’m very surprised by this type of review. Wondering if I would support your monarch theater troupe?

Amelia February 16, 2012 - 10:47 am

I didn’t like the script for The Pink Panther Strikes Again when I read it. It was a chore for me to get through it. So I went to see the show to support fellow actors and without high expectations. The “sophomoric humor” had me in stitches the entire time. From the leads all through the supporting cast, everyone knew what this show was about and how it needed to be played to be effective. In particular, there was a scene in a bar filled with assassins that was so well done that I almost felt like I was watching an episode of “Get Smart”. If I didn’t know already, I would not have suspected that at least half of the people involved in the scene had never done fight choreography before.

I actually enjoyed the “Panthers” and the set changes. I think adding to the fact that they took twenty minutes total time was that there were so many set changes and that they were elaborate. But twenty minutes spread over eighteen changes didn’t make me restless. I’ve seen (and have been in shows) that have had longer and more awkward set changes.

This is community theater and isn’t the goal to give our community (and our actors) a variety of types of entertainment to choose from? If there are actors and audiences members who want a slapstick comedy, who are we to tell them that it’s not “real theater”? Theater is a broad term that is applied to many different types of events ranging from Shakespeare to Blue Man Group to Sondheim to Cirque du Solei to Tennesee Williams to shows like this and so much more. But even all that aside, this was supposed to be a review on the production and not a critique on what shows Newtown Arts Company picks for their season. Why deprive a talented cast of a real review of their talents in a show that they obviously put a lot of work into just because you have a gripe with the show that was chosen?

M February 19, 2012 - 5:11 pm

We went to see “The Pink Panther Strikes Again” at its second performance. We found it to be very shaky. Many of the actors were tripping over their lines and the blocking and set dressings, boring and lazy. At one point, Dreyfus is supposed to run his finger nails over a chalkboard in order to torture another character. The problem was that the “chalk board” wasn’t even a chalk board but a DRY ERASE WHITE BOARD-with old messages written that couldn’t be fully erased from some meeting having nothing to do with the show! The Newtown Arts Company doesn’t have 25 dollars to buy some plywood, and a can of chalkboard paint to make an actual chalkboard? The tickets themselves were 17 each! Set changes were also weird! The same couch covered with a different colored afghan does not make it clear we’ve moved to a new place. I often did not know what was going on and was confused. We actually left at intermission as we simply could not take any more.


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