The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title The Assorted Suites of Neil Simon
Organization Del Oro High School
Date(s) of show November 13-22, 2014
Reviewer Letha Dawson

(Hotels Are Like a Box of Chocolates:  Sometimes They Are Full of Nuts!)

Four 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.        

While 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.      

In 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.      

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