BILOXI BLUES, as directed by Erin Marie Friel at Colonial Playhouse, is an insightful piece that entertains away the blues! Lots of laughter in this coming of age tale about a Jewish boy, Eugene Morris Jerome (Adam Corbett), from the Bronx, who is drafted during WWII and shipped to boot camp in Biloxi, Mississippi (way down South from NYC y’all). It is the middle play of Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical trilogy, between BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS and BROADWAY BOUND, and Eugene is set on vanquishing his virginity, falling in love and not getting killed in the war. On the train to Biloxi he meets up with the young men he will be in basic training with; Arnold Epstein (Carl Dillard) a stubborn intellectual, high strung opinionated Joseph Wykowski (David Richman), Don Carney, a singer (Brian Schwartz), intellectually obtuse Roy Selridge, and reserved James Hennesey (Liam MacDonna) who serve to embody the various challenges he will confront to grow as a writer and as a man. However, it is the intimidating, erratic push-up punisher Sergeant Merwin J. Toomey (Jim Brennan) who stirs this pot of personalities to the boiling point in order to prepare them for what is to come.
It’s not all KP duty and push-ups for Eugene, however, as he does meet the lovely Daisy Hannigan (sweetly portrayed by Lauren Jones) and the red-hot saucy Rowena (well played by Kim Garrison – Woo-hoo!). Adam Corbett is very believable as Eugene in his honest asides to the audience, his wide-eyed expressions and his mannerisms on stage. He makes the audience feel welcome in his story. Carl Dillard gives a strong performance and repartee as Epstein, especially against Jim Brennan’s awesome intensity as Sergeant Toomey. Brian Schwartz embues Don Carney with soul and a lovely singing voice, and Liam MacDonna gives a wonderfully expressive performance as Hennessey. Johnny Justice plays Selridge with lots of pep, and David Richman’s physicality as Wykowski is awesome! All of the actors are on target in this production and the witty one liners that pepper this play are smartly delivered.
Costumes and props were well thought out and appropriate, and the set (Erin Marie Friel, Roseann Thornburg) is well conceived and constructed. The use of the stage curtain lends a sense of intimacy between the audience and the stage action when drawn, and also adds depth to the ensuing scene upon opening. The detail put into this production is obvious, and the small touches are delightful, such as the feather wafting away from Eugene’s shoulder in Act II.
To surrender yourself to an entertaining and enlivening experience, march on down to see:
by Neil Simon
Directed By Erin Marie Friel
May 4-19, 2012
522 W. Magnolia Ave.
Aldan, PA 19018-0091