(Hotels Are Like a Box of Chocolates: Sometimes They Are Full of Nuts!)
delightful scenes from Neil Simon’s plays, California Suite, Plaza
Suite, and London Suite, each lasting about thirty minutes,
make for an evening of laughter. The antics of the four couples take
place in a ritzy hotel suite comprised of a living room and bedroom.
Designed by Sir Jeffrey Johnson, and furnished with the expert eye of
Gayle Lamm, who brings 30 years experience as a scenic designer, and
Rachelle Wallis, student scenic designer, the suite is constructed so
that the audience can watch the nutty couples strut, walk, crawl, and be
carried from the living room to the bedroom and back.
Claire Rowland, costume designer, and Sara Clark, hair designer, showed
their talent in cleverly creating time periods and recognizable
characters as they dressed tennis players, parents of the bride, the
reluctant bride, doctors, and hotel staff. Noelle Young, their costume
design mentor, is an excellent influence.
the actors in all the acts are funny and entertaining, those in Act II
and Act IV had the audience laughing out loud continuously. In Act II,
Rachelle Wallis, as the worried wife and mother of the bride, steals the
show. Perhaps part of the appeal was her costume, particularly her
hat. As a mother trying to control her emotions and her husband’s
temper and her daughter’s pre-wedding nerves, Rachelle, as Norma Hubley,
is simply hilarious. She’s fearful one minute, determined the next,
charming immediately after, then exasperated, then completely poised
again. Rachelle Wallis is outstanding in actions, voice control, look,
and posture. Jack Shobe, as the father of the bride, also easily
switches between the loving Daddy coaxing his little girl out from
behind the locked door, to the furious father storming across the room
with shoulder tilted, ready to break down the door to get Mimsey out of
the bathroom. Later Jack, the exhausted father, re-enters the scene
soaking wet from crawling out on the building’s ledge in pouring rain.
He is bedraggled and yet still determined to extract the bride-to-be.
Act IV, Marty Allgeier, as Mark Ferris, the man whose back goes out, had
the audience moaning with him, in between laughing. As Marty almost
makes his way to the phone, his agony is as once palpable and funny. A
word here about Shere “Mama Jones” Freedman’s terrific direction is
necessary. While her directing hand is exquisitely evident in every
act, her genius makes this scene unforgettable because of the way she
piles the bodies one on top of the other in such a way that the audience
can see all three at once—Collin Smith, as Bertram, Max Briggs, as
Doctor McMerlin, and under them all, Marty Allgeier, as Mark Ferris.
Although the comedy alone of these well-acted scenes is enough for an
entertaining night at the Del Oro High School theatre, live music always
enhances a show. Players from the Placer County Youth Orchestra and the
Del Oro Jazz Band, directed by Benjamin Hartung, played "Jazz
Pizzicato," "Feeling Groovy," "In the Mood," and 'Elephant Walk," among
other favorites. The music set the mood for The Assorted Suites of
Neil Simon, a hilarious show for the whole family.