IF YOU GO
What: Bradley and Phyllis swap bags at the airport. Things get exciting.
When: 8 p.m. Wed. - Sat.; 3 p.m. Sun. through April 3
Where: 1055 N. Collier Blvd. Marco Island
Information: Call 642-7270 or themarcoplayers.com
Something Else: The theater is located in the Marco Town Center Mall directly across from the Crazy Flamingo restaurant.
On the Web: Sign up to receive more theater news from the Stage Door blog via email.
MARCO ISLAND — The Marco Players pulled away from the gate on their final show of the season, Sam Bobrick's lost-luggage comedy "Baggage" Wednesday. The show arrives at its final destination intact with plenty of laughs - even if the cast has to work for every minute.
"Baggage" follows two annoying thirty-somethings who accidentally take each other's bags at JFK airport, then - for reasons known only to the playwright - decide to start dating. Audiences get bad dates, break-ups, reconciliation - even a shrink peddling his books to them - and the crowd. There's kung pao chicken and the fortune "Stay away from chocolate." But we all know how this story ends. Say it with me now .... Awwwww.
Sam Bobrick works have landed in each of the past four Marco Players seasons. The scribe produces humorous stuff that appeals to community theaters because the plays don't require large casts or complicated sets - both a requirement for Marco thespians. Audiences appreciate the plays because they're fun to watch, uncomplicated and easy to relate too.
Of course, "Baggage" isn't really about luggage in the physical sense - the script isn't nearly that subtle. Neil Simon this isn't. Here, "baggage" refers to the detritus from past relationships - bad boyfriends, ex-wives, memories - everything keeping the characters from moving forward.
Director Pattie Ziesig and her amateur cast deserve an upgrade for scouring the maximum amount of humor out of Bobrick's wafer-thin script. Zeisig displays a deft hand at timing - and she knows how to whip some of the sillier elements (Peter Galluzzo's fast-talking shrink) into real comic creations.
Kevin Moriarty (Bradley) and Karen Frizzell Anglin (Phyllis) star (and spar) as the mismatched lovers. They crank out the dialogue with glee - you'd almost believe they were on a bad date. Anglin's spaced-out yuppie deadpans some of the night's best lines, while Moriarty gives his sad-sack character real depth. Even an extended crying jag (Bradley's wife left him) brings laughs - and you have to watch for his many hilarious facial expressions.
Galluzzo plays his dopey psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Beauregard Alexander as a Truman Capote type dressed by Colonel Sanders and voiced by Foghorn Leghorn. He drawls out "I've got a B.A, an M.A, a B.S ..." and offers to sell his books "Couples in Combat," "Couples in Conflict" and "Couples in Hell." You don't know whether to run or die laughing.
The night's best scene - by far - occurs during a break-the-wall portion of the second act. Galluzzo's shrink claims he can tell whether couples are compatible with a simple test - and calls Moriarty and Anglin back on stage. A simple word association game descends into madness - and strangely, potato pancakes.
Costumes, from Chris Finney and Shari Brousseau (she also appears briefly as Mitzi), give the fluffy show several welcome jolts. Galluzzo's Southern-fried outfit - complete with white pants and straw bowler - looks like it stepped right off a plantation. Brousseau's free-spirited best friend makes her first entrance in a flowered romper and yellow tights (you did read that right). Mitzi's second outfit features skin-tight silver leggins and a pink top that would make flamingos blush with shame.
Other creative elements fall short. Minus a few paintings and accessories, the apartment set feels far too staid for a New York thirty-something. Perhaps its the rather vivid hunter green color chosen for the apartment walls; was it an ode to St. Patrick's Day? Adding hidden doors at stage left and stage right - when there were already doors as part of the set - seems awkward too. Alcoves to accommodate Galluzzo's psychiatrist and a movie theater set do integrate well.
Likewise, a creative light sculpture (donated by Marco Island Light Sculptures and always visible through the apartment set's large rear window) - while gorgeous during the blackout scenes - doesn't belong on the stage. I applaud the Marco Players for thinking outside the box - especially on this fun, frilly play - but the sculpture just sits there, unexplained, throughout the show.
Please return your seat backs and tray tables to their upright and locked positions. The Marco Players are now descending into a comedy zone with "Baggage." Karen Frizzell Anglin and Kevin Moriarty delight with their comic prowess and the costumes will surely tickle your fancy!
I'll never "stay away from chocolate." E-mail me, email@example.com, find me on Twitter at @napleschris or read my Stage Door theater blog. You can also sign up to receive the Stage Door blog via email.