WAUKESHA - Ken Ludwig, one
of the most popular American playwrights, offers a constant stream of comedies
to community theaters, as well as to the likes of Broadway stages. If you’re a
patron of live theater, you’ve probably already encountered “I Hate
Hamlet,” “Moon over Buffalo,” “Leading Ladies,” “Lend Me a Tenor”
or the musical “Crazy for You.” His many awards and the millions of his fans
who have marveled at his cleverness and his prolific output attest to his
The Sunset Playhouse has
taken on his hilarious farce “The Fox on the Fairway” - his latest creation.
It satirizes the golf culture so prevalent in our society - its tendency toward
wacko outfits, its competitiveness, the reverence afforded the golfer, the
shenanigans that often characterize the 19th hole.
The story unfolds at the
Quail Valley Country Club, where we meet manager Henry Bingham, a bumbling,
quick-to-panic executive; his competitor, Dickie Bell, the manager of Crouching
Squirrel Country Club, a man who, despite his horrendous sense of sartorial
style, considers himself a ladies’ man; a prominent member of the Quail Valley
board, Pamela Peabody, a woman who specializes in overindulgence in marriages,
alcohol and flirting with Bingham; Muriel, the brusque, shrewish antique dealer,
who also happens to be the hapless wife of Bingham; and a young couple - a bimbo
waitress called Louise and her hyper boyfriend Justin who happens to be much
more adept at golf than social graces or emotional stability. Though none of
these characters is totally credible, they are all totally funny.
The well-cast group of
actors makes this farce sparkle. They are all adept at good pacing, physical
humor and a healthy dose of histrionics. Matthew Patten’s nervous energy as
Bingham gives us many a laugh. The way he can leap about is amazing, and his
subtle comic touches, such as pretending to hang himself with the telephone
cord, are precious. His counterpart, the clueless Dickie Bell, is well executed
by Michael Schlaman. We love seeing his inflated ego being deflated by Bingham
and his former wife, Pamela.
Alicia Rice aces her role as
the femme fatale Pamela. She exudes the right mix of cynicism and sexiness with
a little room for a big heart. The young romantics, Louise and Justin, are well
rendered by Jackie Michl and Todd Sabin. Her complete ditziness coupled with her
grand elocution of Homer’s poetry are oxymoronic, and her boyfriend’s utter
devotion to her, even exceeding his other obsession with golf, is endearingly
naive. Antoinette Stikl is perfectly suited to her role as Muriel, the shrewish
wife and antique dealer. She is formidable and surprising, a human jolt of
Beyond the enjoyment
afforded by these six clever caricatures, there are also many plot twists that
keep us guessing what will happen next. Who will win the tournament? Will Louise
and Justin’s romance survive? Will Henry and Muriel’s marriage last? Will
Pamela’s flirtations come to fruition? Who will prove to be the golf hero?
Besides these provocative
questions, another twist occurs near the end of the comedy, but I’ll never
tell. You must come and see for yourselves.
Well directed by Diana
Alioto, “Fox on the Fairway” runs through June 16, and it will provide
enjoyment to all golfers and even those, who like myself, have found other ways
to fill my days. I just witnessed this same play in another community theater,
and though I enjoyed it there, I give this one the edge for its superior cast.
The set design by Dana Fralick and its builder, A.J. Simon, as well as the
costume designs by Aria Thornton, also enhanced the overall experience.
“The Fox on the Fairway”
runs through June 16 at the Sunset Playhouse, 800 Elm Grove Road, Elm Grove. For
show tickets and times, call 262-782-4431 or www.sunset-playhouse.com.