‘Moon Over Buffalo’ Provides Plenty Of Laughs

FREDONIA – Lovers of farce will find a very funny example of that artform on the stage of the State University of New York at Fredonia, called “Moon Over Buffalo” by Ken Ludwig.

The play is being presented by the university’s Department of Theater and Dance.

The play takes place both backstage and on the stage of a theater in Buffalo, in the early 1950s. George and Charlotte Hay are actors, touring with a repertory company which performs “Cyrano” and “Private Lives,” at alternate performances. The pair has had a career on Broadway and in minor films, but somehow their careers have never taken off, and now they’re performing leading roles, in tours of minor cities only.

Soon after the curtain rises, the couple are thrilled to learn that famed film director Frank Capra has lost the cast of a film he is making, and he is flying to Buffalo to view one of their performances, thinking they might be cast in his film, as replacements. Tragically, George has chosen this afternoon to get terribly drunk – something he has almost never done when scheduled to perform. At the same time, Charlotte has decided to leave him and to run away with the couple’s lawyer.

Charlotte’s mother, Ethel, has always blamed George for her daughter’s failure to succeed on the stage, and now she is working as a costumer for the company, while seeking an opportunity to revenge herself on her son-in-law. Ethel is nearly deaf, but refuses to wear her hearing aid.

Meanwhile, the couple’s only daughter has decided to renounce the craziness of a life on the stage, and to marry a rather timid television weatherman, and to lead what she considers a normal life. Eventually, they will all go on stage, although George is performing “Cyrano,” while most of the rest are performing the Noel Coward play, and Ethel is on stage hoping to explain the confusion to the audience. As always, in a farce, people will arrive at the worst possible moment, mistake the identity of more people than they recognize, fall over furniture, and generally create a state of total havoc.

BJ Hylton and Allie Miron were both very funny as the central couple. His drunk routine was very funny, although there were periods when he was playing a drunk, rather than a man who was drunk.

Allison K. McCarthy, was very believable as Ethel, a role originally played on Broadway by Carol Burnett. She was obviously much too young for the role, but she was true to her character and it worked well. Jaclyn E. Rahmlow was a lovely straight man to everyone’s humor as the couple’s daughter, while Kevin Stevens made the most of his role as the small town weather man, terrified of his fiancee’s parents who enter a room dueling with swords and who behave like dueling tyrants, trying to dominate the stage of life.

The rest of the talented cast were Nick Stevens as the company’s juvenile who wants to woo the Hays’ daughter back to a life on stage with him, and Alex J. Grayson as the romantic lawyer who just can’t provide enough drama to win Charlotte away from George, try as he might.

The play was directed by Ted Sharon, who kept the roles balanced and the stage picture perfectly presented. Cameron Caulfield’s scenic designs served the play’s vision perfectly, with enhancement by David Orr’s lighting.

The play is performed in the tiny Bartlett Theatre. It was also performed Sunday and will continue Oct. 24-26. If you like to laugh and don’t mind investing some imagination in order to do it, it is well worth your time.