VPH Books An Air Conditioned PLAZA SUITE

by Lesley Grigg

The cast of Village Players of Hatboro's PLAZA SUITE: (L-R:) Mick Huang, Paul Gordon, John Manning, Michele Scutti, Jenny Sullens, Linda Walsh, Philip Seader, Kim Breslin, Ron Green, Zach Palmer, Angie Schlauch (Not pictured: Tom Settefrati as the alternate Borden).

With a new air conditioning system in place just in time for summer, thanks to theater-lover contributions, the Village Players of Hatboro were able to open the last show of their 64th season, PLAZA SUITE. Thank goodness, because besides being more comfortable, it would have been harder for audiences to believe they were supposed to be in a luxury hotel, like the Plaza, if they were worried about passing out from the heat.

PLAZA SUITE consists of three different stories of those occupying suite 719 of the famous New York City Plaza Hotel in 1968. Each story shows us that money doesn’t exactly buy happiness, and you can’t hide from your problems, even in a ritzy hotel, but it sure is entertaining to watch people try.

In the first Act, we meet Karen Nash (Linda Walsh) who is on a mission to recreate one of the most memorable nights of her life, or so she thinks. Her excitement leads to revealing conversations with both the Bellhop (Mick Huang) and Waiter (Paul Gordon), but the most revealing conversation is with her husband, Sam Nash (Philip Seader), after an unexpected visit from his secretary, Jean McCormack (Jenny Sullens). The entire scene elicits giggles from the audience from Walsh’s zaniness and sense of humor. As the longest Act of the evening, the laughter was welcomed, and could have been used more often toward the end of the scene which seemed to drag with its more serious tone. Other than the occasional stare through the invisible dividing wall, the actors held their own through a scene full of ups and downs.

In Act Two, we’re introduced to the waiter (Paul Gordon) again, as he sets up the bar that will help Hollywood Producer, Jesse Kiplinger (John Manning) through a meeting with his high school sweetheart, Muriel Tate (Michele Scutti). It’s unclear what the actors were really drinking on stage, since there were times they seemed to awkwardly stumble through their lines and actions. The scene may have called for some discomfort for the actors under their character’s circumstances, but the timing was a little off, and Manning’s advances felt more like rehearsing pick-up lines than rekindling a past love. Scutti saved the scene with her transitions from wholesome housewife to a sassy contender for the Real Housewives of Tenafly, New Jersey.

The best was saved for last in Act Three, when we watched the drama and hilarity of Norma (Kim Breslin) and Roy Hubley’s (Ron Green) distress in convincing their daughter Mimsey (Angie Schlauch) to emerge from the locked bathroom and marry Borden Eisler (Zach Palmer/Tom Settefrati). Breslin used every facial muscle to convey every human emotion known to man, and maybe a few unknown ones. Breslin and Green were a great team, and worked off each other’s cues very well, though we can’t say the same about their characters. Even though Borden and Mimsey had limited time on stage, they both made it count.

For an entertaining summer evening, book a seat at the newly air-conditioned Village Players of Hatboro, and enjoy the amenities of PLAZA SUITE.

by Neil Simon
Directed by Jacki Green
June 8-23, 2012
Village Players of Hatboro
401 Jefferson Avenue
Hatboro, PA 19040

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