I've only seen The Rivals one other time and that was in August, 1998 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. It was adapted and directed by Roger Rees and the cast included Tom Bloom, Kate Burton, and Dana Ivey. I don't remember whether I laughed much or not.
But I do remember the Center Stage version directed by David Schweizer who always brings an artistic touch. At Center Stage his work ranges from the amazing Boys From Syracuse, to Moliere's The Miser, to Caroline or Change, and last season's haunting Snow Falling on Cedars.
In this production, Schweizer is limited certainly not by the exquisite cast, but by the words of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. This is allegedly a comedy and I just didn't laugh that much and neither did the audience. In spite of Schweizer's cute little touches, without a funny script, comedic actors portraying comedic characters just isn't enough.
It's always delightful to see Manu Narayan back at Center Stage. His memorable roles include Cyrano, and Schweizer's Syracuse. And I'll never forget his Broadway debut in Bombay Dreams. Narayan has himself a fun evening playing Captain Jack Absolute. The object of his affection, Lydia Languish, is played by the very funny Zoe Winters. Playing Absolute's father is the incomporable and Broadway veteran David Margulies (who I loved in the Signature Theatre's 2008 musical The Happy Time). Kristine Nielsen has the honor to play Mrs. Malaprop who comedien Norm Crosby used so successfuly to become a fixture on the "Ed Sullivan Show" using his famous "malapropisms". Nielson is specatacular as Mrs. Malaprop.
Who cannot fall in love with Evan Zes who plays Lucius O'Trigger. There's a television show that should be written just for him. His facial expressions and antics are a joy to watch.
So what's the problem? The script and the story. One does laugh at what comes out of Mrs. Malaprop's mouth and watching Zes take off the stage whenever he's on it.
Next up at Center Stage is David Mamet's classic, American Buffalo which runs Nov. 2 to Dec. 11 in the Head Theatre (only five weeks). For tickets, call 410-332-0033.
For comments, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.