by Mary Jane Cruise
Performed by Mary Long & Ralph Small
Directed by Walter Learning
Victoria Playhouse/Theatre Orangeville Production
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
July 22 to August 9, 2008
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
Author Cruise Takes Audience on a Cruise
In Petrolia, Separate Beds explores married life in a humourous comedy, sharing many of the same themes as I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. This play, taking place on a cruise ship, tracks two middle-aged couples.
In the first act, we meet Twink and Ernie, who own a hardware store, and are celebrating their 33rd anniversary. They discuss another couple they’ve met and make comparisons. Then in act two, we meet the other couple Beth and Blake. Mary Long and Ralph Small play both roles, showing their versatility in playing opposites.
Mary Long was the tough cop and Ralph Small was the guy who only knew first lines of songs in the Norm Foster comedy Looking at VPP in 2005, so the pair have already established some chemistry. Small is also familiar to VPP audiences as the endearing slow-learner in Cheatin’ Hearts.
Both Long and Small rise to the challenge of playing two very different roles in one play, and they do an excellent job of making each character distinct. There are clever one-liners throughout the production that both actors handle well, with good comedic timing. They are also heart-warming moments, leading to the predictable happy ending. Long and Small’s Sonny & Cher duet “I’ve Got You Babe” is a real crowd pleaser.
While Separate Beds is very comparable to I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, it is also quite similar to Sexy Laundry, which ran at the Grand Theatre in London last winter. Separate Beds is better than Sexy Laundry at telling the story of couples trying to improve their love life. By using everyday dialogue and making the pair more believable, playwright Mary Jane Cruise has captured human nature very well. The talented author is also a St. Catharines’ area schoolteacher.
This is good summer-stock theatre, offering a pleasant diversion – especially good for couples who just can’t find time for each other.
Separate Beds continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until July 19. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or (519) 882-1221 for tickets.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
Book & Lyrics by Joe DiPietro, Music by Jimmy Roberts
Performed by Mairi Babb, Kristin Galer, Michael Lomenda, Mark Weatherley
Directed by Marc Richard
Drayton Entertainment Production
Playhouse II, Grand Bend
July 16 to August 30, 2008
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
Like Separate Beds, (now playing at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia), I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at Playhouse II in Grand Bend is all about the funny side of relationships. A musical comedy of vignettes, this production pokes fun at first dates, courting, engagement and the wedding in the first act. The second act moves on marriage, babies, raising kids, empty-nesters and retirement, and the effect they have on couples.
Mairi Babb, who recently played Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady on Huron Country Playhouse’s main stage, and Kristin Galer, who was Ado Annie in HCP’s Oklahoma! are the two women teamed up with Michael Lomenda who was in last year’s Miss Saigon, and Mark Weatherly, who was in A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline in Playhouse II a few years ago. The four actors play an assortment of roles as couples in various stages of their lives. There is no plot or storyline, just a series of scenes depicting life’s changes.
Well-written comedy and hilarious song lyrics make this show a real crowd pleaser. In Playhouse II’s cozy setting, the audience really enjoys becoming intimate with the four performers. There was lots of laughter and applause, and even little comments like “oh boy” and “look out” rippling across the small theatre.
Anyone who has ever been in a wedding party can identify with Galer’s solo “Always a Bridesmaid” – and her horror of having to wear a bright fuchsia gown adorned with too many flounces and lace.
Weatherley had the audience roaring with laughter when, as an overprotective parent, he tries to bite the eyes off a Teddy bear to ensure it is safe for his baby.
Later all four work together perfectly to move their “car” around the stage, in a hilarious family road trip scene.
An enjoyable night out for couples of all ages, with many laughs, and excellent singing. .
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change continues with eight shows a week until September 3 at Playhouse II, Grand Bend. Tickets are available at the Huron Country Playhouse box office at (519) 238-6000 or Drayton Entertainment at 1-888-449-4463