The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead
By Robert Hewett
Directed by Timothy Murphy
Performed by Linda Kash
Starbright Summer Festival, Imperial Theatre, Sarnia
July 22 to August 13, 2011
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
Cream Cheese Angel offers Amazing Variety
I frequently see the same actors over and over again in different shows and different roles. Some of them are always the same. It isn’t that they aren’t good actors – they are, but they play all their characters in just the same way.
I came to Sarnia’s Imperial theatre thinking I was going to see the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Angel perform. Linda Kash has been appearing in the TV ads promoting the heavenly cream cheese for 16 years and I assumed we would see the same woman on stage.
But there was no cheesy angel on stage at all. Linda Kash performs this one-woman show giving us seven totally different characters. Watching her make complete transformations is entertainment enough – the plot line is secondary.
Ms. Kash’s versatility and amazing acting ability easily explains her many interesting credits. While she is best known as the cream cheese angel, she has appeared on television in shows such as Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Third Rock, Ellen and Sabrina. In Canada, she’s been on Rick Mercer and many live stage productions. She honed her improv skills at Second City, and appears in the classic improv mockumentaries Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman. At present, she lives with her family near Peterborough and is the creator of the Peterborough Academy of Performing Arts, teaching improv and musical theatre.
The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead is written in a fascinating way. It’s the account of a jealous wife who tells of her shock when her husband walks out on her. They we meet a mix of other characters – some that may seem disconnected at first – and they all give their perception of the situation as it unfolds. From each person’s account, we get a differing point of view on the same turn of events. We laugh at the many astounding stories and outrageous comments. Then we have our heartstrings pulled by a little boy whose mother is dead.
And all this is presented to us by one actress! First we meet Ronda the redhead, as she is trying to grasp why her husband has left her. Then we move to a hospital, where we meet Alex, a doctor learning of the sudden and brutal death of her lesbian partner. Next, Lynette, Ronda’s neighbour and friend, the Brunette who is hilarious trailer park trash, gives us her version of events from among the bras in the lingerie store where she works. And then we meet Mattie, a little boy telling us about the plans for his Mommy’s funeral, and we realize that he’s the son of Alex and her partner.
Act II opens with Graham, Ronda’s husband, standing at a urinal, then slugging back beer in a bar, talking about his affairs and why his ex-wife, Ronda, is in jail. Then the elderly Mrs. Carlisle, sitting on her front porch, describes what it’s like to be the neighbour of Alex, little Mattie and his sister Ellen. Next we meet the Blonde, Tanya, a Russian who had a fling with Graham. Finally we’re back to Ronda, in her jail cell.
So let’s take a little count here – one actress plays all seven characters: A lost, bewildered redhead, a normally confident lesbian doctor who’s grieving, a trashy brunette, a little boy in overalls, a swaggering drunk man, a very elderly lady, and a blonde Russian bombshell. Each character is completely believable and unique. You totally forget that it is all one actress.
So to remind the audience that all characters are Linda Kash, we are privy to her dressing room and see each transformation as it occurs. The set features a screen at centre stage – between each scene Ms. Kash goes behind the screen, which is back-lit. We can see her in black silhouette as she completely changes her costume, and selects from the array of wigs. At first this seems a little tedious as we watch her peel off her clothes, but it soon becomes fascinating as we wonder what colour her hair will be and just who she will be the next time she walks out. The opening night audience roared with laughter as she took off Graham’s suit, to reveal the outline of a big beer gut and dangling male genitalia, which she then took off and tossed to the floor.
I suspect that changes were made to the script. Playwright Robert Hewett is Australian, so I doubt if he made Graham a hockey player, or wrote about going to Tim Hortons. The Canadian content was appreciated by the Sarnia audience.
While some of the dialogue seems repetitious, and Ms. Kash had a couple of opening night flubs in her lines, these are overshadowed by the excellent characterizations. This show is a must-see for those who appreciate a skilled actor’s ability to completely change for various roles. Ms. Kash is so much more than a cream cheese angel, she is all things to all characters.
Starbright Summer Festival continues at the Imperial Theatre, Sarnia until August 21. For tickets, call the Imperial Theatre box office at 1-877-344-7469 or 519-344-7469 or see www.starbright.ca