Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Thing About Men (Actors' Summit)

‘THE THING ABOUT MEN’ delights at Actors' Summit

‘The Thing About Men’ is written by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts, authors of the long running Off-Broadway hit ‘I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change’ which had very successful local runs at both Actors Summit and The Hanna Theatre.

The play is loosely based on the 1985 movie ‘Men.’ The story concerns a womanizing advertising executive, upon discovering that his wife is having an affair, manages to become the roommate of the hickey-bestowing artist with whom the neglected lady has been sleeping. The hubby, thinking only to spy on his competition, discovers that he likes the other guy and schemes, once he's given up on winning his spouse back, to help his new pal win wifey's hand in marriage. Unfortunately, he rids the artist of his charms, makes him as boring as himself and winds up messing up the reason for the wife’s attraction.

DiPietro has a facility for the well-turned remark and the comic set-up, both in his book scenes and his lyrics. Roberts has a knack for tossing off easy tunes. The result is an entertaining and escapist script.

This is not intended to be a message musical, even though the title seems to hint at that. This is meant to be a sit and laugh and forget the real world. And, it works by use of sexual innuendoes and a little of bit of off-color language.

When it opened off-Broadway in New York, VARIETY’s review stated: “The thing about ‘The Thing About Men’ is that ‘thing’ is just the word for it. No more descriptive noun seems appropriate for this bland and insipid new Off-Broadway musical about that most generic of subjects, marital infidelity.” That may have been the word in the Big Apple, but it surely isn’t the reaction the show is getting at Actors’ Summit Theatre. Audience comments included, “That was cute.”, “I loved it!” and “I loved the way it was staged.”

Okay, so it does come off sounding more like a concocted pilot for a TV sitcom with lots of logical weaknesses, but there is enough charm to make the production work, especially in the creative hands of director A. Neil Thackaberry and a talented cast.

Sandra Emerick, a past Times Tribute Theatre winner, is delightful in the role of Lucy, Tom’s wife and Sebastian’s lover. She belts out her songs in a strong voice and makes the words meaningful.

Scott Boulware is wonderful as Tom. He bounces between outraged and vindictive and pussy cat with ease. He has a mobile face, a nice way of turning a line and a very good voice.

W. Jamie Koeth, though he doesn’t have the sensual elements that might have helped flesh out the part, builds nicely in the role of Sebastian. One could only wish that his wig might have been a better quality as the one he wears makes him look like he’s wearing something left over from Halloween. As with all the members of the cast, he has a nice singing voice.

Kent LeMar plays his many roles with hysterical accents, delightful facial and body expressions, and a wonderful sense of comic timing. Ditto for Tricia Bestic in her multi roles.

Pianist Michael Flohr performs well, though a fuller musical sound would have added to the festivities.

The only real flaw in the production were the costumes which were often ill-fitting and not well-styled.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: Actors Summit’s ‘The Thing About Men’ is a delightful pastiche, perfect for a hot summer evening get away.