REVIEW: PLAZA SUITE at the Arvada Center

by Michael Mulhern

I have been partial to this play for decades, having seen and enjoyed it several times in my life; and I love the whimsical banter and charismatic characters that Neil Simon is known for. The Arvada Center’s production of PLAZA SUITE was amusingly solid. The talented duo of Kate Gleason and Gareth Saxe definitely had chemistry, hit their marks, made us laugh and all-in-all gave us a night of enjoyable theatre…BUT….

Honesty……Confessional Corner……It was funny, BUT it wasn’t hilarious.

There’s a line from Into the Woods that says “It’s not Good, It’s not Bad, It’s’ Just…Nice.” and that’s exactly what this show was – it wasn’t Hilarious…it wasn’t Bad…it was Just …Pleasantly Funny. 

Overall – the minor details lacking from this production that disturbed me were actually two major observations of absence that just bothered me. Halfway through the show, I realized that there was really not much physicality that the show was begging for – but never got satisfaction. In addition, the most disturbing realization was that while the audience was laughing – never once did the actors laugh onstage. I’m not sure why it vexed me, but again that little choice to add that laughter (especially in Act Two), could have made all the difference. 

So let me break this down Act by Act. 

Act One – This was actually my favorite of the three. The contrast and conflict between Karen and Sam was delightful to watch. The only thing nagging me was that the audience was in desperate need of a subtle reveal that Sam was indeed having an affair with his secretary, Ms. McCormack. One little laugh or longing look goodbye or lingering hand of the thigh from Devon James would have made all the difference and would have been the delicious catalyst for Karen’s downward spiral.

Act Two – This was also a fun act, but again had Muriel Tate have had a nervous laugh or titillating giggle, it would have had the audience in stitches.

Act Three – This act was so delightful, but not over the top enough. I would have loved the Hubley’s embody Moishe and Ethel Maisel, the overly dramatic Jewish parents on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Also – they didn’t have enough fun with the bathroom door. Had they knocked and banged on that door short of breaking it down, the audience would have been crumpled on the floor in laughter. PS – in a previous production, I witnessed Mr. Hubley actually break the door and I may or may not have peed myself!!! The Door got a Standing Ovation!!! 

Like I said, I did enjoy the show – but just wanted a little more.

I really have to applaud Kate Gleason and Gareth Saxe for the daunting task of playing all the memorable roles, having such varied and entertaining roles, and making us laugh again and again. 

Director Lynne Collins did an excellent job with casting and the flow was on pointe, but I feel she could have pushed her actors a little more to make this production a delectable delight.

As always, I absolutely adored the scenic design by the talented Brian Mallgrave. This luxury suite looked like the Arvada Center could have actually Air Bnb’d it out when the curtains were not raised and had such a regality to it that worked with every scene. Costume Design by Janice Benning Lacek and Wig and Makeup Design Richard Krammes were also quite noteworthy for transforming every scene and distincting each character with flair.

Another amusing production from the Arvada Center that left me wanting more.

PLAZA SUITE is delighting audiences now through November 10th at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. For tickets or more information, contact the Arvada Center Box Office Box by calling 720-898-7200 or online at www.arvadacenter.org.

 

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