Directed by – Alex Bigus
Set Design – Kevin Brown
Lighting Design – Scott Davis
Sound Design – Danica Bergeron
Props Design – Kristin Burgess
Costume Design – Hope Cox
Stage Manager – Harmony Austin
Judi Conger – Sylvia Charles
Dan Duncan – Vera Walter
Laura Lester – Bridget Charles
Matt Beutner – Tom O’Grady
Greg Phillips – Mr. Schmidt
Angela Butson – Heather Van Pree
Rose Ann Holman – Claire
Ellen Eberhardt – Voice
Bob Shapiro – UPS Man
Ellen Eberhardt – Other UPS Person
Reviewed Performance 3/19/2016
Reviewed by Carol M. Rice, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
I love farce. The ridiculous situations that the characters in a farce get themselves into is almost always due to some innocent misunderstanding, and it always works out in the end, leaving the audience smiling and happy. Such is the case at the Runway Theatre in Grapevine with their production of Katherine DiSavino’s Nana’s Naughty Knickers.
Bridget Charles (played by the expressive Laura Lester) has come to New York to spend the summer with her grandmother, the sprightly Sylvia Charles (played by Judi Conger). Little does Bridget know that her grandma has been selling lingerie for the senior set out of her rent-controlled apartment...with no permits and without paying taxes for the last six years. Bridget plans to start law school in the fall AND is interested in a handsome policeman (Matt Beutner), so she is understandably upset about this development. But it’s a farce, so naturally she gets sucked in and everything goes all frantic for about an hour and a half and then works itself out. I’m not giving away any spoilers here because that’s what happens in a farce, but it’s the getting there that makes it fun!
Kevin Brown’s set at first looks like a simple living room, but there’s so much more to it! It is a truly character of its own, with sliding doors and closets hidden behind revolving bookcases. Kudos to the backstage crew for making it all work seamlessly during all the onstage chaos.
Hope Cox’s costumes were spot on - especially the hilarious slip Bridget “modeled” through most of the show. Wow. The other costumes were perfect for their characters, with the exception of the white Keds worn by the female UPS worker. Those stuck out as being wrong, and my companion (who happens to work at UPS) agreed.
I don’t know if Ms. Cox or prop mistress Kristin Burgess provided all of the negligees and nightgowns that were seen in the show, but either way, it must have been a monumental effort to find them all. The only negative thing I would say about the props involves the three “heavy” boxes that were occasionally picked up. They were obviously empty, as they echoed when set down, although the one with dishes that was eventually dropped did have the proper sound to it. The rest of the props, especially those from some mis-delivered packages, were well-done.
Scott Davis’ lighting gave the right feel to the older New York apartment, and I absolutely loved the backlight in The Pink Collection’s closet. Nice touch. Danica Bergeron’s musical choices were funny and appropriate, although because they were all “oldies but goodies,” I wondered at first if the show was set in modern times. (It was.) I’ll forgive her that for some of the laughs I got from the musical connections to the script, though.
Director Alex Bigus cast the show well and got the most out of his actors. Ms. Lester has a rubber face and while she was occasionally shrill in her delivery, she WAS playing a pretty stressed character. Her chemistry with Mr. Beutner’s young cop was excellent, and the two of them obviously had fun in their roles.
I’ll be honest: when the grandmother was described as being an old lady of 63, I saw (and heard) several of the patrons at the show I attended whisper to each other that 63 isn’t old. And because Ms. Conger came across as a very young, fit grandmother type, I never was real sure why Bridget was coming to take care of her. That said, she was extremely likeable and played the part beautifully.
The part of Sylvia’s best friend and “partner in crime,” Vera, was played in drag by Dan Duncan. While he was very funny, I couldn’t help but wonder if the script called for Vera to be a drag role or if that was the director’s choice. Mr. Duncan played the old lady to the hilt, however, and definitely made the role his own, no matter how the show was written. I AM still trying to figure out how he/she had a hammer in his/her pants after running through the streets with Sylvia, though.
Greg Phillips was perfectly despicable as the landlord, Mr. Schmidt, and Angela Butson was hilariously trashy as Heather Van Pree. These two made the most of their stage time, to be sure! Rose Ann Holman seemed a bit unsure of some of her lines as Claire, but she made up for it with her attitude. Bob Shapiro and Ellen Eberhardt also shined in their delivery person roles, and Ms. Eberhardt’s offstage voice was also quite funny.
As farces go, Nana’s Naughty Knickers won’t go down as one of my favorites simply because the script isn’t that strong, but Runway gives it a fine production. If you’re looking for a fun evening of laughter without any deep meaning, this would be a good show to catch.
NANA’S NAUGHTY KNICKERS
Runway Theatre, 215 N. Dooley St., Grapevine, Texas 76051
Runs through April 1
Actual days: Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 m and Sundays at 3:00pm). Tickets are $17-20
For info and to purchase tix go to http://runwaytheatre.com/ or call the box office at (817) 488-4842.