Review: Broadway Palm eagles out with golf farce 'Fox on the Fairway'

The cast of 'The Fox on the Fairway.' From left: Kelly Legarreta, Jim Heffernan, Rachael Endrizzi, Sean Riley, Paul Kerr and Serena Vesper. The show runs through May 4 in the Off-Broadway Palm. Ticket availability is limited. Call 239-278-4422 or broadwaypalm.com.

Photo courtesy Broadway Palm

The cast of "The Fox on the Fairway." From left: Kelly Legarreta, Jim Heffernan, Rachael Endrizzi, Sean Riley, Paul Kerr and Serena Vesper. The show runs through May 4 in the Off-Broadway Palm. Ticket availability is limited. Call 239-278-4422 or broadwaypalm.com.

What: A farce about rival golf clubs slugging it out, with a silly bet on the line.

When: Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees through May 4.

Where: 1380 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers (in Royal Palm Square)

Cost: $18 to $49; show-only tickets available.

Information: 239-278-4422 or broadwaypalm.com

On the Web: More theater news in the Stage Door blog at naplesnews.com/stage

Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre

1380 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL

You can't turn left without going past a golf course in Southwest Florida. Little wonder then that Will Prather snapped up silly country club comedy "The Fox on the Fairway" to close the Off-Broadway Palm's season.

Two rival golf clubs. A prodigy with a broken arm. A priceless vahze. A $200,000 wager. Granny's engagement ring. The Golf Channel. Oprah. Raw oysters. Champagne. There's even a couple putters, a driver and few golf balls knocking about the stage. Sounds like a recipe for a disaster on stage and laughter in the seats!

Ken Ludwig writes sturdy, if not spectacular, farces like "Lend Me a Tenor" and "Moon Over Buffalo." While "Fox" amuses, the plot gets thin; worse, comedic sand traps like "She kissed my balls for good luck" litter the script. I winced; the crowd cheered as if celebrating Tiger Woods marching up the fairway at Augusta in April 1997.

The show itself is a silly bit of fluff. There's a bet, some golf and people getting upset over outrageous nothings. It all blows up in the first hour and calms down in the second. The fun, of course, is watching it happen. Gulfshore Playhouse produced a version almost exactly one year ago.

Full credit to director Paul Bernier. He gets every inch I thought possible out of "Fox" - and then some. The show has it all: visual puns (so many hideous golf outfits); a chase scene; lipstick smears; a drunk woman (with hysterical blindness) using a putter as a cane; Kelly Legarreta stomping around on these tiny little platform wedge shoes.

Even in the small Off-Broadway Palm space, the show retained a strong energy and solid momentum, although it never reaches the giddy heights of a true farce. I would love to see Bernier tackle the show on a larger stage that would allow for more physicality in the staging, like chase scenes, slamming or swinging doors and other pratfalls.

Paul Kerr brings a bulldog's playfulness to hapless Quail Valley director Bingham. Barking, bullying, then cowering at the first sign of a greater aggression. A drunken flirtation with Serena Vesper's too-sexy Pamela Peabody brings laughs. Their dizzy chemistry and absurd antics (plus Vesper's tight costumes) will have you in stitches.

Jim Heffernan delights as hard-nosed, crooked, mustachioed Dickie Bell, the villain-in-chief at Crouching Squirrel. He sneers. He leers. He mixes metaphors, wears ugly sweaters and even more hideous pants (Where does Jim Conti find them?). Every club has seven more like him. You'll love him!

Legarreta comes near to stealing the show as bruising Muriel. From husband-beating entrance to sex-addled exit, she creates a hilarious character. Her mole/beauty spot is a true work of art.

Rachael Endrizzi (Louise) and Sean Riley (Justin) get to play silly, goofy young lovers, complete with squeals, squawks, tears and fits. The "I flushed Granny's heirloom engagement ring down the toilet" scene is clearly as much fun for the actors as it is for the audience.

"The Fox on the Fairway" (the title is never explained) serves up laughs, putts, champagne, love affairs and more. No shanks, no slices and plenty of nice, easy fairways! And of course, there's a hospitality cart! Look for Kelly Legarreta's loudmouth Muriel, but wait till she shows her tender side. And try not to how too loud at Dickie Bell's amazingly dreadful wardrobe!

"Golf is nothing but a good walk spoiled!" Email me, csilk@naplesnews.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.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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