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.”
THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN
by William Gleason
Directed by Wendy Force McBride
February 9 – 15, 2012
NEWTOWN ARTS COMPANY
215-860-7058 or 1-800-838-3006
Performing at The Newtown Theatre
120 North State Street, Newtown, PA 18940