‘Beau Jest’ changes pace for Chestnut audiences

Shelly Stewart/Chestnut Fine Arts Center

For just a good, old-fashioned comedy, but set in modern time, do not miss “Beau Jest,” at Olathe’s Chestnut Fine Arts Center, playing through April 14.

Directed by Shelly Stewart, this uproarious comedy contains laughs throughout. So, different from the musical cavalcades so richly associated with Brad Zimmerman, artistic director of The Chestnut, “Beau Jest” brings a lighthearted laugh-fest to Chestnut patrons.

Shelly Stewart/Chestnut Fine Arts Center

For this funny romp, Stewart assembled a wonderful cast that worked as a fine-tuned fiddle on opening night. The cast just seemed to flow as the story developed. If a line was dropped, no one would ever know because the show flowed so well. The movement, the comic lines, the expressions, overall electricity just radiated from the stage to the audience.

The story centers on Sarah Goldman and her very Jewish parents who want nothing more than their daughter to marry a nice Jewish man. Sarah, knowing her parents’ desires, just seems to always fall in love with non-Jewish men, and she knows marriage outside of the faith would be heartbreaking. Still, she loves Chris and starts a crazy action scheme to fool her parents.

Shelly Stewart/Chestnut Fine Arts Center

To hide her love for Chris, Sarah invites her parents to dinner and introduce a surrogate boyfriend, a male escort. He actually is an actor named Bob. To make things more confused, she introduces him as David, a Jewish surgeon. But, his real last name sounds Jewish, so Sarah thinks she has hired a Jewish man to impress her parents. While the parents immediately like Dr. David, Sarah discoversthat she likes Bob more than she does her fiancé. So, Chris, the fiancé, finds himself forced out of the picture as Sarah and Bob begin seeing each other.

Shelly Stewart/Chestnut Fine Arts Center

The problem gets worse as Mr. and Mrs. Goldman think David is marvelous and a true catch. But, he’s really not David; he is Bob; and furthermore, he is not Jewish. The story sounds confusing, but as it unfolds the audience laughs through all the twists and turns.

Also in the mix is Sarah’s brother who thinks something is fishy from the beginning, but just can’t quite make the puzzle pieces fit. “Beau Jest” just keeps the laughter coming as each scene brings a new twist to a preposterous story. No gimmicks here. No deep, dark turns. No message to be learned from this play. It’s just a feel-good comedy with strong actors making silly seem normal for two hours.

Shelly Stewart/Chestnut Fine Arts Center

“Beau Jest” is quick-witted, strikingly funny, and moves at a quick pace. The cast displays a seamless unity that just embraces the audience from the opening scene. One of the few situation comedies produced in the metro, the play should not be missed. It’s a gem.

The cast is Jessica Franz as Sarah Goldman, David Martin as Chris, Peter Leondedis as Bob, Michael Juncker as Joel, Pam Haskin as Miriam Goldman, Evan Gamsu as Abe Goldman. The production team is: Shelly Stewart director, Brad Zimmerman, producer; Terri Babbitt, stage manager; Chrissy Mull, crew/usher; Debbie Payne, set designer; Diane Mackey, house manager; James Sherman, playwright.

Shelly Stewart/Chestnut Fine Arts Center

“Beau Jest” runs until April 14. The show is lively, fun, and family-oriented. There is no adult language or sexual content, so all ages can attend. For those who like to laugh, “Beau Jest” is a must-see. Tickets can be purchased by phone or at the door. For more information on dates and times, check out the Chestnut Fine Arts website.

Tags: “Beau Jest” review, Chestnut Fine Arts, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City, Olathe, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment