Village Players of Hatboro opened their 65th season with Ken Ludwig’s hilarious golf romp THE FOX ON THE FAIRWAY. This delightful tribute to all things golf, and the players who love it, was a fun and witty night of great comedy. Directed and co-directed by Jim Balcerek and Erin Ryan, the show is a hysterical story about a high stakes golf tournament, and the shenanigans that ensue at the Quail Valley Country Club.
The story opens with a series of golf jokes told by each cast member in true vaudeville style, and continues at the opening of the second act. We then meet the cast of characters: young Justin Hicks, (Brian Richichi), an eager young man newly hired at the club and madly in love with his girl, Louise (Gina Lutz); Henry Bingham, who runs the country club with his associate Pamela Peabody, played by Jon Zucker and Debbie Lewis. Bingham allows himself to be bullied by Dickie Bell (Michael Powell) into a hefty wager on the annual golf tournament. The bet leaves Bingham desperate for a ringer to finally beat his rival, and in convenient comic writing, we discover his new employee Justin Hicks is just the pro he’s been looking for. We soon meet Bingham’s surly wife Muriel to round out the cast of characters, well coifed and turbaned à la Gloria Swanson, by Carol Leister.
The story delights us for two acts with clever plot twists and witty jokes, no surprise from the author of such contemporary treasures as Shakespeare in Hollywood, Lend me a Tenor and Moon over Buffalo.
The true stand-out for this show by far is Brian Richichi as the young golf prodigy Justin Hicks. His energy from the moment he came on stage set the tone for the whole play. Without him I fear the show’s mood would have been far darker, and the pacing slow. His boundless energy and natural comic timing truly made his star shine onstage. He was 100% committed to his role, fearless and flawless in his portrayal. He brought the actors around him up to his level, a true test of talent.
The one thorn in my side from this production was the tattooed covered girlfriend, Lutz. She was supposed to be a young naïve girl in a conservative setting, a country club! It was hard to stay in the moment with her because of the artistry all over her arms. I couldn’t understand why there was no attempt made to cover them up, or at least put her in three-quarter length sleeves. Did they think the audience wouldn’t notice? It certainly didn’t lend to her character, but rather pulled you out of the story. An obstacle that could have been easily remedied, it took away from the production.
That being said, it was a wonderful show overall. Zucker took a little time to warm up in his role, but once he settled in he gave an apt performance along with Debbie Lewis. I hope to see much more of Richichi, his talent should make him the community theatre darling of the season, and he will likely ascend to higher ranks.
THE FOX ON THE FAIRWAY
by Ken Ludwig
Directed by Jim Balcerek and Erin Ryan
Oct 5 – 20, 2012
Village Players of Hatboro
401 Jefferson Avenue
Hatboro, PA 19040