LOVE, SEX, AND THE I.R.S.by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore
Directed by Anton Bucher
Stage Manager – Suzanne Stanley
Scenic Designer – Anton Bucher, Mike Pirtle
Lighting Designer – Chris Berthelot
Costume Designer – Deborah Jaskolka, Debra Foster
Properties Mistress – Deborah, Jaskolka
Kate Dennis – Laura Merchant
Leslie Arthur – Trent Lockwood
Mr. Jansen – Robert San Juan
Jon Trachtman – Benjamin Scheer
Floyd Spinner – Burl Proctor
Vivian Trachtman – Nancy Lamb
Connie – Devon Rose
Arnold Grunion – Joe Godfrey
Photographer: Chris Berthelot
Reviewed Performance: 8/2/2013
Reviewed by Scott W. Davis , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Love, Sex and the I.R.S. originally opened at the Dam Site Dinner Theatre in Tinton Falls, NJ, on June 1, 1979 and has been a mainstay for many community theatres across the country. Frisco Community Theatre is just the latest to take on this challenge. We were told that the show was two hours long and had an intermission. Actually there are two intermissions and the show we saw went a bit longer at two hours, twenty six minutes.
Walking into the theatre, I was transported back to the 70’s. The setting was the interior of the two musicians’ apartment in a thrust stage setup. The set was painted an almost blaze orange and dressed with some of the best posters from the 70’s. Yes, the Farah poster was there. A big screen window sat in the middle of the orange set, between the entrance to the bedrooms and the front door. The centerpiece is the big brown couch which sat dead center on a green shag throw rug. An extra large bean bag chair, a rocker, and the couch were the only pieces of furniture to sit on. There was a wet bar made out of milk crates sitting by the Montgomery Ward stereo, surrounded by dirty laundry everywhere. Set designer Anton Bucher, who also directed the show, did a great job designing a very minimal yet colorful set for this production.
Mr. Bucher’s blocking through the show was great. The action had some good flow which caused my eyes to constantly be moving. I didn’t get bored. The director did something great between the scenes in act 1. Instead of the change being done in the dark, he had the lights come up. Kate turns on the stereo and then proceeds to change the apartment into a woman’s palace with the help of her two friends. I looked around and the whole audience was tapping their feet to the beat. It was a great way to make a long scene change fun and viable.
Trent Lockwood did a good job with his portrayal of Leslie Arthur. With a muscular physique, Mr. Lockwood’s female persona was quite amusing to watch. His asthma attacks every time he got anxious were truly believable, funny, but believable. I was bothered that Lockwood had no control of the wig he wore while portraying the male character. The wig didn’t fit correctly so you saw his dark hair underneath it. It was really distracting.
Kate was played by Laura Merchant who made her Frisco debut as well as Mr. Lockwood in this show. Mrs. Merchant’s performance was flawless. During one scene the phone cord got tangled up in topiary, thus tipping it over. Two other characters left it lay there. Kate came to the rescue, got off the couch and fixed it, all while never dropping a line.
Benjamin Scheer did a good job as well, portraying Jon Trachtman. Mr. Scheer has great banter between his character and Mr. Spinner through the show that just has you laughing every time their together. His character was one of about four that really had the 70’s styling. His Jack Tripper black vest, feathered hair and actual side burns really sold the 1970’s character.
Any show set in a New York apartment needs a sleazy super to butt in at the wrong time. Robert San Juan played that man, Mr. Jansen. Every time the character entered, the audience laughed. With his belly hanging out of his shirt, Robert San Juan pulled off a truly hilarious portrayal of this character while stealing all of Jon and Leslie’s beer.
Just when you think you’ve seen the best character in the show, Floyd Spinner appears. Floyd was played by long time Dallas actor Burl Proctor. I hated his IRS character in the beginning. Then the booze started to flow and his character started to steal the show. Mr. Proctor’s drunken performance was priceless. His face said it all, he was drunk and he didn’t care.
Nancy Lamb brought her talents to light as Vivian Trachtman, Jon’s mother from Chicago. She as well did a good job portraying a drunk as she sank into a bottle throughout the show. During Act 3, Vivian had a huge monologue where she rants nonstop for a couple paragraphs. Mrs. Lamb pulled it off without a hitch.
Both Connie, played by Devon Rose, and Arnold Grunion, played by Joe Godfrey, made very brief appearances at the end of the show. Miss Rose and Mr. Godfrey did great jobs in their debut performances at Frisco Community Theatre.
The lighting through the show was minimal which was fitting for this type of show. Chris Berthelot used a three color wash which in a thrust setting really was hard to make work. As the actors moved around the stage, their skin tone would change depending on which color was dominant where they were standing. It looked odd and became very distracting after a while.
The costumes were designed by Deborah Jaskolka and Debra Foster. This was one of the downfalls that I had with the show. There were a couple of outfits that were believable; Mr. Spinner’s suit, Jon’s outfits and Connie’s flower girl outfit. But the rest didn’t scream 70’s. No bellbottoms, no corduroy, nothing vintage 70’s. There were only two characters that wore wigs but they fit so badly or were poorly styled it made them stand out from the other characters.
Deborah Jaskolka was busy for this production as she was also the Properties Mistress. Her set dressings nicely accentuated the set.
The posters she found were absolutely period. The only flaw I saw was that the underwear and socks strewn across the set in the beginning of the show were way too new. It definitely didn’t look like the ones I had when I was twenty. There was no sound designer listed in the program but kudos to whoever did it. I have never seen an audience dancing in their seats during intermissions like I did here. I found myself tapping my foot every time the music played.
Frisco Community Theatre and Director Anton Bucher have done a good job with this show. There are still some timing issues like lines being said on top of the audience laughing so they missed the punch lines but I believe that those will be taken care of as the cast gets used to an audience. It’s really a fun show to see. After the show, walk around the theatre and look at the posters they have up. You will find yourself reminiscing about the past.
Frisco Community Theatre
The Discovery Center, 8004 North Dallas Parkway Suite 200
Frisco, TX 75034
Running through August 18th
Show times are Friday, and Saturday evenings at 8:00pm, and a Sunday matinee at 2:30pm.
Tickets are $20.00 evenings and $18.00 matinees. There is a $2.00 discount for students, military and seniors.
For info & to purchase tix: www.friscocommunitytheatre.com call 972-370-2266, or