Marco Players’ latest is ‘Red Hot’

Call it the seven-year inch. Call it a mid-life crisis. But no matter what you name it, Barney Cashman thinks he’s been bitten by the “love bug” and is the last man on earth who hasn’t found the cure.

In typical Neil Simon fashion, New York’s style of comedy and classic sexual dilemma come together in The Marco Players’ production of “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers.”

Cashman is an average Joe: 47 years old and faithful to his wife of 23 years, hardworking restaurateur running his father’s fish business, and terribly, terribly bored. He sees the world of free-love (and free sex) passing him by as the ‘60s roll into the ‘70s. What’s a red-blooded American male to do?

True to life, Cashman discovers when opportunity – his mother’s Manhattan apartment waits empty – meets motivation; he can find trouble in triplicate.

Sean O’Shea as Cashman is clearly the star performing throughout the three-act play. But Simon shines, too, as he brings to light the wonderful diversity of woman. In each act, a new dimension of the fairer sex takes center stage.

In Act 1, Elaine Navazio, played by Rachel Gallentine, meets an eager but unseasoned Cashman who cloaks his charms in a veil of shy nervousness. Clumsily, he moves in with hands outstretched, ready for his first fondling. Alas, it’s not to be, at least, not at his instigation.

The beautiful Navazio in fur and high heels walks a fine line between sophistication, and you might suspect, a woman who’s cheated before. Cashman appears out of his league, hopeless yet ever hopeful.

Act 2 introduces Bobbi Michele, played by Jillian Pepperall, a sassy blonde actress from the West Coast whose parents could be younger than Cashman. Her pink false eyelashes and cleavage-revealing silk dress would give any man the “hots,” but the generation gap is too great for Cashman.

The encounter remains a montage of the typical bubbly blonde meeting the middle-aged want-to-be player. Again, Cashman can’t read his cards right leaving another afternoon tryst in the hands of comedy.

The final act takes Cashman back to his roots. Jeanette Fisher, played by Angella Anderson, is a known quantity. A family friend and the wife of a couple Cashman knows socially, the odds seem in his favor. This stab at a relationship is clearly the most poignant for Cashman. Its outcome will forever remain in his memory.

Simon shows his mastery of comedy and the human heart throughout “The Last of the Red Hot Lover,” a play that received the Writers Guild of America Award in 1970. A hit on Broadway, the play earned four Tony awards and has stood the test of audience appeal for more than 40 years.

The key to The Marco Players performance is its brilliant direction by Jerry Seiff. A veteran of the theater for 62 years, the octogenarian knows how to please, and tease, audiences. A master of all that is theater – lighting, set design, sound and stage – Marco Island audiences will feel privileged to see a performance of such craft.

“The Last of the Red Hot Lovers” is playing from March 28 to April 15. Performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for nightly shows and 2:30 p.m. for matinees.

The Marco Players’ theater is located in Town Center between the Marco Island Brewery and Dunkin’ Donuts. Tickets are available by calling 239-642-7270 or for walk-up sales; the box office is open Wednesdays through Sundays four hours before each show.

© 2012 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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