Olathe theatre offers best family-oriented comedy of season

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Hilarious, slap-stick insanity best describes the current production at Olathe Civic Theatre Association (OCTA.) with the Kansas City premiere of the British farce, “One Man, Two Guv’nors, by Richard Bean and directed for OCTA by Rick Bumgardner.

Rarely is this reviewer at a loss for words, but after watching and laughing through this zany script, finding suitable words to describe it escape me. The play was adapted from an Italian piece and updated to 1963 and relocated in Brighton, United Kingdom.

The madcap romp also features a skiffle band that plays and sings between set changes and to introduce Act II. “One Man Two Guv’nors” is pure fun and games for the audience–who, by the way, get called upon to participate. (HINT: Beware if you sit in the center section.)

“In this madcap farce set in 1963,” OCTA said, “Francis Henshall, recently fired from his skiffle band, finds himself working for both a gangster and a criminal in hiding, both of whom are linked in a web of schemes, extortions, and romantic associations. On top of his ravenous, fish-and-chips appetite, he must juggle working two jobs and keep his own identities straight. To prevent discovery, Francis must do everything he can to keep his two “guv’nors” apart. James Corden received a Tony Award in 2012 for his portrayal of Francis”

The direction and casting could not be better. Bumgardner selected a top notch cast who could play the broad English comedy. Standouts were Peter Leondedis, David Martin, and Joshua Gleeson. Do not take eyes off any of them when on stage. They are total delight. And, Gleeson steals each scene where he appears. On Broadway, he would be considered a featured actor. His comedic skills are wonderful. The comedy focuses on Leondedis who works for two different men. He needs to keep them separated and conduct business for each. That’s the fun part with them coming and going and doors opening and closing on split second timing. And, then there is Gleason’s Alfie. He’s an elderly man who needs to serve a seven course dinner to the two guvnors. And, while he brings the food, a ravenous Francis Henshall serves himself from the portions and gets things all out of whack, to the enjoyment of the audience.

A special notice of approval goes to Julie Ewing (costumes) for bright and mod costumes that reflect the Carnaby Street look of London in the 1960s. One costume worn by Martin is guaranteed to make audiences squirm and laugh simultaneously.

The cast is: Peter Leondedis (Francis Henshall), David Martin (Stanley Stubbers), Joshua Gleeson (Alfie), Lindsay Roland (Rachel Crabbe), Ellie DeShon (Dolly), Chuck Duer (Charlie Clench), Kim HeCCntges (Pauline Clench), Zachary Weaver (Alan Dangle), Alecia Stultz (Harriet Dangle), Larry Goodman (Lloyd Boateng), Liz Kerlin (Careth/Sides), Roberta Wilkes (Christine Patterson), Ted Collins (Policeman/Clarence), and Richard J. Burt (Policeman/Taxi Driver).

The skiffle band members are: Drew Ackelson (Guitar), Jay Kassen (Guitar), Denny Jones (Bass), and Bill Dunn (Washboard).

The production and creative team bringing Bumgardner’s production to fruition are: Betsy Sexton (stage manager), Terry Erbe (set designer), Chuck Cline (lighting designer), Julie Ewing (costumes), Camille Lerch (light operator), Shari Wassergord-Johnson (properties), and Philip Kuzila (sound designer).

The funniest family-oriented comedy to play Kansas City this season is in Olathe at the Olathe Civic Theatre Association. This is one show to plan to see. For ticketing, times and more information, go to the OCTA website.

Tags:  Theater, Performing Arts, Arts & Entertainment, Olathe Civic Theatre Association, OCTA, Comedy, “One Man Two Guv’nors”, Kansas City, Kansas City Theater

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