For a Good Time Call Old Ringers at the Ridgefield Theater Barn

Published on Thursday, 14 February 2019 14:37

Brewster’s Hamlet Hub

Written by Christine S. Bexley

Our protagonist is played to authentic perfection, down to the just-right Bronx accent and lilt of a seasoned day-drinker, by McGarry. Her throughline is natural no matter what wacky situations or daring costumes she is put into.

.fran on phone mouth open

Diane (Frances McGarry) gets more than she expected when she answers the phone in Old Ringers, playing through February 23rd at The Ridgefield Theater Barn. Photo Credit Paulette Layton

In the words of George Michael, “Sex is natural, sex is good. Not everybody does it, but everybody should.” And some people find it lucrative to do it over an untraceable phone attached to a PayPal account in order to pay the electric bill.   Making its Connecticut debut, the Ridgefield Theater Barn’s first offering of its 53rd season, Old Ringers, by Joe Simonelli, finds women of (mostly) an advanced age in that very spot, to often absurd outcomes.    When Diane (Frances McGarry) finds her Social Security check drastically diminished, a wrong number to a sex hotline opens the door to an adventurous financial opportunity. Joined by her friends–the frisky Verna (Linda Seay), the trepidatious Kathy Ann (Stefanie Rosenberg), and the sensible Rose (Laurel Lettieri)–and her carefree boyfriend Harry (Mark Rubino), Diane and the group must navigate worldly challenges and personal discoveries while maintaining their sense of humor and avoiding the judgmental gaze of Diane’s pious daughter Amanda (Sarah J. Ahearn) and a roving Detective Rumson (Joshua Adelson).   The playwright defines these characters through, at times, heavy handed dialogue and slapstick-driven motivations, but the actors bring humanity and genuineness to such two-dimensional archetypes with guidance and adjustments from director Carol Dorn, who freshens the material a bit for the present era of technology, sex positivity, and elder visibility.

Our protagonist is played to authentic perfection, down to the just-right Bronx accent and lilt of a seasoned day-drinker, by McGarry. Her throughline is natural no matter what wacky situations or daring costumes she is put into. McGarry is matched in energy and ease by Rubino as Harry (who has some fun costuming moments of his own).    You could not ask for a better trio of friends than Diane’s to join her on this romp. Verna’s cliche “tramp” label was navigated well without unnecessary over-sexualization by Seay (who somehow did not come off as intoxicated despite double fisting a flask and a screwdriver. Impressive.). Lettieri’s Rose emanated grace and maturity (and a convincing bum hip), especially when espousing the customary “old lady wisdom,” despite the actress being no senior citizen.   Simonelli’s characters have some clunky and immediate transitions to make, and the cast worked diligently to make them seamless. Rosenberg’s Kathy Ann telegraphed her coming out moment from her first line, however, her distinct voice and pacing shifts were necessary for her bombastic reveal and she thrilled audiences in the process. Ahearn’s Amanda had to do some equally difficult personality gymnastics with the introduction of Tony Rumson, a detective played by newcomer to the craft Adelson. Ahearn jockeyed between over-wrought, teetotaling Christian and relaxed, inebriated flirt with speeds to induce whiplash. Adelson’s depiction of Rumson was a bit of a paradox as the actor’s earnestness clashed with the character’s reported bravado. For an acting debut, he rose to the occasion.

Indicated by the pre-show music, this world of women was raised on Diana Ross, Lesley Gore, and Sonny and Cher in the sexual revolution 60s, and came of age in the self-improvement 70s. That these ladies would be so hung up on the morality theories of others was a convenient if implausible plot device, and the use of the detective as the literal as well as figurative voice of the law fell flat. Someone needs to tell these folks to relax: as long as everyone’s over eighteen years old, phone sex hotlines are not illegal. Sorry Tony.   Setting the actual stage, kudos to set designer and builder Nick Kaye. The verisimilitude of the Bronx abode was not only impressive to behold, but grounded the farcical nature of the action in a world that could be realistically inhabited, and where the coffee was hot enough to see the steam from the last row. While the comedy benefits from the low-hanging fruit of scantily- (or comically)-clad seniors, costume designer Will Heese outfitted each character in garb that fit personalities and situations naturally and completely (although Kathy Ann could use a longer coat to support her character’s presented modesty, as her costume is still visible to the audience and cheats the reveal a little).

This is a show to take advantage of RTB’s cabaret style seating. Bring your favorite noshes, libations, and snacks to marvel at the riotous and resolute journeys these seven characters take. This brassy offering is anything but subtle as it raises laughter the to the rafters from sold out audiences.    Old Ringers runs until February 23, 2019 at the Ridgefield Theater Barn, 37 Halpin Ln, Ridgefield, CT, 06877. Doors open one hour prior to curtain, which is 8PM evenings and 2PM matinees. Tickets are $35 for adults, and $28 for seniors, students and veterans, and available at ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org or by calling the box office at 203- 431-9850. For more information, email  info@RidgefieldTheaterBarn.org.

Recommended for mature audiences.

 

Theater Review: Theater Barn Cast Definitely Not Phoning It In

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A wrong number leads to some interesting possibilities for Verna (Linda Seay), Kathy Ann (Stefanie Rosenberg), Diane (Frances McGarry) and Rose (Laurel Letteri), in a scene from Old Ringers, playing through February 23rd at Ridgefield Theater Barn.
(Paulette Layton photo)

By Elizabeth Young

February 07, 2019 at 07:00 am

The Newtown Bee

Frances McGarry is a brave scene stealer. A gifted comedic actor, she takes hold of her character and plays her at full tilt.

RIDGEFIELD — The phones are ringing off the hook at Ridgefield Theater Barn, and for good reason. They are being answered by crafty women of a certain age who provide a certain kind of comfort for lonely souls. Joe Simonelli’s Old Ringers is on stage for a full-on hilarious evening of theater.

A group of New York women gather frequently in the Bronx apartment of one very sassy and bawdy Diane (played by Frances McGarry). Diane lives in the home she shares with her religious and uptight daughter, Amanda (Sarah J. Ahearn). Constantly at odds with the other’s concept of a good life, they exasperate each other.

Diane is well fortified by her drop-in lover, Harry (Mark Rubino), her cadre of likeminded friends, and vodka. Amanda is appalled.

Sexually charged Verna (Linda Seay) has not been active for some time and is highly motivated to end this drought. Rose (Laurel Lettieri) suffers from a sore hip and rejection. Rounding out this posse is Kathy Ann (Stephanie Rosenberg), a youngish widow with a naïve charm, until she gets the hang of her calling.

Financially fragile, these women gear up to earn some cash in a modestly illegal immodest manner. With support from Harry, in chaps, the calls for their services just keep coming, until Police Officer Tony Rumson (Joshua Adelson) starts stopping by to woo Amanda, with whom he is instantly infatuated.

This adorable play is a very funny in the hands of this comedic cast, who appear to be enjoying every minute of the ribaldry. The direction of Carol Dorn allows the determination and unity of this group of sisters in kind to shine. The laughs are as easy as the action is unforced.

Frances McGarry is a brave scene stealer. A gifted comedic actor, she takes hold of her character and plays her at full tilt.

Linda Seay is gorgeous as the long tall wannabe seductress, Verna.

Rigid and demanding, until she is not, Amanda is wonderfully rendered by Sarah J. Ahearn. She energetically lets her character loose with expert timing.

As a shy and very innocent Kathy Ann, Stephanie Rosenberg is sweetly befuddled. The reticence of her character is the perfect contrast to her enthusiasm as she gets the hang of her new job.

Laurel Lettieri is lovely as the older and more worn out Rose.

Playing the sidekick to Ms McGarry, Mark Rubino is a hoot. He is gleeful in this role and super fun to watch.

The soulful performance by Mr. Josh Adelson, as his Tony falls in love for the first time, is authentic.

The set, designed and constructed by Nick Kaye, is wonderfully cozy and worn. The design provides large spaces for the actors to gather and move, yet retains a small-space feel. Much credit to Will Heese for fabulous and funny costuming.

The Barn is the absolute perfect venue for this light-hearted fare that pairs excellently with a snack and beverage. Make the call, ring the bell, and get yourself a ticket.

Performances continue weekends through February 23, on Friday and Saturday evenings as well as the afternoons of Sundays, February 10 and 17. Visit ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org for full performance and ticket details, directions, and reservations.

 

OLD RINGERS: a new comedy by Joe Simonelli

old ringers revised outside

A Hilarious Comedy By Joe Simonelli

Directed by Carol Dorn

It’s Golden Girls meets Calendar Girls in this semi-sequel to Men Are Dogs where four senior women try to fight the shrinking economy and their shrinking pocketbooks by investigating alternative means or generating income.  
A wrong number leads to interesting possibilities in this adult bawdy comedy.

*Mature Audiences Only*

.fran on phone mouth open

February 1 ~ 23
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Sunday February 10th & 17th at 2pm

GET TICKETS

Cabaret Seating ~ Bring Food & Drink

Doors open one hour prior to curtain 

Featuring:
Frances McGarry
Linda Seay
Laurel Lettieri
Stefanie Rosenberg
Sarah Ahearn
Mark Rubino
and Joshua Adelson

Young Women in the Theatre and Media

lptw-networking-logo-jpg

 

In our continuing effort to develop and promote women in the professional theatre The League of Professional Theatre Women invite you to another…

NETWORKING EVENT
Connect, Collaborate, and Consolidate
Join your colleagues, expand your networks, bring a potential new member!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Castillo Theatre 543 West 42nd Street

RSVP: Networking@TheatreWomen.Org

Young Women in the Theatre and Media
Learn from the young professional dynamos who make it happen.
Projects and strategies to create work for, by, and about women of all ages.

Panelists include:
LAURA ARCHER (Executive Director, March Forth Productions),
VALERIE BROOKS (Filmmaker/Director/DP),
CHRISTINE DIXON (Director/Producer/Actress/Singer, Harriet Tubman Herself),
RACHEL GRIFFIN (Composer/Lyricist, We Have Apples),
MITRA JOUHARI (Writer/Comedian, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee),
MEGAN MINUTILLO (Director/Producer/Writer/Arts Educator, Founder, TheWriteTeachers.com),
ELISABETH NESS (Producer/Actor/Creator, Redheads Anonymous),
DANA VERDE (Filmmaker/Producer, The Perfect Match)

Moderators:
KIMBERLY EATON, Broadway Producer/Director, Theatrum Mundi Productions
KATIE ROSIN, Publicist/Marketer, President Kampfire PR

LPTW Members: FREE Non-Members $15
Non-Members with Theatrical Union Affiliation $10

Brought to you by your LPTW Networking Committee:
Frances McGarry, Chair; Katherine Elliot, Salon Series Chair;
Ivy Austin, Mary Candler, Lorna Lable, Romy Nordlinger, June Rachelson-Ospa,
Amie Sponza, Amy Stoller, Elizabeth Strauss; Amanda Cardwell Aiken, Apprentice, Amanda Salazar, Apprentice

 

chandra Thomas: Complete Sentences

First Online With Fran is committed to featuring those ordinary people doing extraordinary things in The Arts.  It never ceases to amaze me how the passion for our work continues to impact our world in so many positive and transformative ways.  The interview with Chandra Thomas in 2012 only proves to illustrate her tenacious dedication to her art (and a pretty talented one, at that!).  We had a chance to chat about her latest project. . .

I can’t believe that it’s already been two years since our last First Online with Fran conversation! What an incredible space to talk about my passion for ““unique, stories that aren’t just recycling of stories we have already heard” and my mission “to promote points of view that might not have otherwise been heard”.  And while so many things have changed since our last chat, that passion and that mission are only stronger.

This is even true of my current project, the original comedy short Complete Sentences?.

 

Complete Sentences?

Complete Sentences?

Eddie (played by Pun Bandhu)  is a chef who pops “the question” to his longtime girlfriend Kara (played by myself). He made the romantic brunch. He got the ring. He’s down on one knee—but will she say YES? We tell this story with an extraordinarily talented and diverse team both behind and in front of the camera. There’s comedy, relationships, fine food and baseball—an engaging combination in a fresh voice.

 

 

web: www.chandrathomas.com | twitter: @truechandra | imdb: www.imdb.me/chandra | facebook: www.facebook.com/chandrathomasfanpage