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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stage West Calgary's "The Fox On The Fairway"

My "Sneak-Peek Blog Review"

Full Cast & Director

When you attend The Fox On The Fairway, stick around folks. Stay for the second act, which is full of payoffs in this latest Stage West production. During the first half of the show, you will likely find yourself wondering if you should, but this comedy does find its footing once the cast returns for another go around at the story.

I'm sure that in my official Calgary Herald review I'll join all the others that have used ample golf analogies to comment on this play, set in the middle of an inter-club rivalry between two competing country clubs and the stars they are each fielding to win a substantial bet. Actually, I won't even be able to contain myself here - there's an awful lot of time spent in the rough during the first half. 700-foot fairways played with a chipping wedge. You can't blame the cast, you can only do so much with what you're given. The writing in this endeavour doesn't get past middling until the second half. 

The characters as they are written are the guilty party here, I think. While this is admittedly a tribute to the great farces of the 1930's and 1940's, I'd be willing to bet that even that far back, the writers knew when to add a few laughs along the way. For far too long, there are no jokes, or at least none that seemed to connect. The audience went for numerous prolonged periods where there was not even a snicker - not a formula for success in a comedy!

George Wendt & Kevin Hare

Yet when the lights go up for the second half, all the components that failed to connect earlier seemed to grab hard onto the better writing in that act. Star George Wendt chews up his scenes, eliciting heartfelt laughter. The veteran actor can certainly wring a laugh out of a good line.

His real-life wife and co-star here, Bernadette Birkett's character got to have a lot more fun in the second act. And so it was for the entire cast, ending the show to sincere and enthusiastic applause.

I'll go into more detail in my Herald review (link here when that is live and online), but this may be a show that has you wondering if it gets better as it slowly sets the stage in the first act. It certainly does

Reading up on this play, the earlier productions were not well-recieved, but after two or three re-workings, audiences warmed up to it. Playwright Ken Ludwig does know what he's doing for the stage, he is the fellow behind the popular "Lend Me A Tenor", and several more that have earned him a number of awards. 

In the early going though, it's hard to see the flag on the green...

The Fox On The Fairway stars George Wendt, Bernadette Birkett, Kevin Hare, Melanie McInenly, Marianne McCord, and Graham Parkhurst. Directed by J. Sean Elliott

3 out of 5 Stars

Photos courtesy of Stage West Calgary

1 comment:

Mrs That Dan Guy said...

Yes, better 2nd act, but not my favorite show sadly.