Familiar faces in Present Laughter @ Village Playhouse

Hey all – Marketing Director Tina McCulloch and I received a lovely invitation from Alum gal Danielle Capretti (who last appeared at Alumnae in the Chorus in The Queens last season) to come out to the Village Player’s preview of their upcoming production Present Laughter last night. I was not available, so Tina provided the scoop:

Guest blogger here. Bloggergal and I were both invited to attend a preview of Nöel Coward’s 1942 comedy Present Laughter at the Village Playhouse in Toronto’s west end last night; bloggergal couldn’t make it, so I went, accompanied by a willing co-worker.

About 50 people turned out to the preview, by director Aaron Marcus’ estimate. I’m familiar with a couple of Coward’s best-known works (Hay Fever and Private Lives were both produced at Alumnae Theatre not too long ago); I saw his Fallen Angels at Amicus Productions last season; and was introduced to a later gem, Waiting in the Wings, at East Side Players last year. Had never read or seen Present Laughter, but I was expecting Coward’s patented mix of pithy zingers and broad comedy, and the Village Players did not disappoint.

As famous actor/Coward clone Garry Essendine, Greg Corkum (who made a cameo in my vampire playlet Soledad earlier this year at Alumnae’s New Ideas Festival) plays a man in constant motion. On the verge of leaving for a tour of Africa, Garry is pursued by both an amorous nymphet (Kate Horzempa) and the sexy wife (Danielle Capretti) of his producer (David Eden). Garry’s almost-ex-wife Liz (Nicole Fairbairn) is still around as a sort of business partner, although they no longer live together. His life is further complicated by his easily-agitated manager (Andrew Borokowski), the cigarette-puffing Scandinavian housekeeper/medium (Karen Drybrough), his ladies’ man valet (Ronnie de Sousa) and a rather unhinged young playwright/stalker (Leeman Kessler) who keeps showing up unexpectedly. This whole motley crew is regarded with a discreet eye-roll by Garry’s unflappable secretary, Monica (Kay Montgomery). Garry’s spare room gets a lot of use, and there are many doors on the set. When one character comments that she feels as if she’s in a French farce, it’s Coward poking the audience.

More Alumnae connections: Danielle Capretti appeared in The Queens in April; Leeman Kessler was seen in two plays at this year’s New Ideas; and Kay Montgomery appeared in Lettice & Lovage a few seasons ago. She and I also shared the Village Playhouse stage in the delightful Enchanted April (2008). Another Enchanted April friend, set designer Sara Ballantyne, is stage manager for Present Laughter.

This show is very entertaining, but one bit that made me absolutely guffaw was Garry’s fumbling the introduction of the stalker/playwright, whose name is Roland Maule. I made a mental leap to a scene in the movie Austin Powers in Goldmember, when Austin can’t stop commenting on Number Three’s prominent facial mole: “Mole. I said mole. Moley, moley, moley, moley!” But, apparently, I was the only one. Yes, Greg – the line that nobody else laughed at, that was me you heard.

Present Laughter opens September 17at the Village Playhouse (Bloor St. W. at Runnymede) and runs to October 9. Tickets are $20. Check www.villageplayers.net for show times, and call 416-767-7702 to reserve. Don’t wait – dates sell out fast!

There you have it – big fun with some familiar faces at the Village Playhouse. Thanks Tina!

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