Ron Newell has given Clague Playhouse’s back nine a hilarious comedic shine by directing “Fox on the Fairway.” Mr. Newell has assembled a troupe of ferocious comedians in top form to rock the three-sided golf course. This jewel was written by Ken Ludwig, who is an internationally acclaimed playwright. His first play on Broadway, “Lend Me A Tenor,” which The New York Times called “one of the two great farces by a living writer,” won three Tony Awards and was nominated for nine. His other best-known Broadway and West End shows include “Crazy For You,” “Moon Over Buffalo,” “Leading Ladies,” and “Twentieth Century.” With such great material, I was thrilled that the production matched expectations.
Bingham (Lou Will), president of the Quail Valley Country Club, is in a difficult position, because he found out that the golfer he thought would play for his club has switched sides due to being recruited by his opponent, the cocky and arrogant Dickie (Lance Switzer). Bingham’s stress in increased by the fact that he wagered a huge bet, which includes a store owned by his wife, Muriel (Margy Haas), which is now likely to be lost. Fortunately, his newly hired hand, Justin (Jeremy Jenkins), is actually quite good at golf and Bingham finagles his entry into the tournament with the help of Pamela (Donna Case), his club’s vice-president. Justin does not disappoint and has a huge lead, but when Justin learns that Louise (Debbie Lenarz), a waitress at the club house, has lost the engagement ring he gave her, he comes unglued. The game resumes the next day, but Justin loses the lead and, upset, takes an unfortunate swing, breaking his arm. Bingham is desperate, and the appearance of his wife complicates the matter, as she catches him much too close to Pamela. Can Bingham find a replacement for Justin to win the game and the wager? There lies the rub.
Under the magnificent direction of Newell, this cast works like a well-oiled machine. Will is a blast as the tortured club president, and is the anchor to this piece. Whether he is grumpy, scheming or amorous, Will is a delight. Case is on top of her game, giving comedy some glamour and physical shtick to boot. Switzer is a shoo-in for winning every ugly sweater contest in the county; he is a hoot as he perfectly embodies the villain. Very funny stuff from an accomplished performer. Jenkins is fantastic as the lovesick golf phenom. His skills are kicking, and result in a lot of laughter. Lenarz is right on target, especially in the red dress, and adds to the merriment with some great acting chops. And I just want to wrap up Haas in a to-go box because she delivers one of the best “punch” lines I have ever seen. It literally took me a full minute to stop laughing. Awesome stuff.
Ron Newell. Can I just take a moment and write a brief love letter. As I sat there gazing at the impeccable set, it just reminded me of what a treasure this man is to Cleveland. Newell is an accomplished actor, director, set designer and one of the most down-to-earth, talented artists you will ever meet. He is such an incredible positive force in this community, and definitely proves that there is power in supportive genuine artistry. As his bio states “When asked why he keeps going, he quotes ‘An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest.’ When I’m the ‘object,’ I prefer the latter.Love and Respect – Ron.” Well, I think I can safely say the Cleveland theatre community has more Love and Respect for you than you might ever know.
For anyone who has worked at Clague Playhouse, you know that the production staff is one of the best of any theatre in the area. Volunteers are fierce contributors to this Westside gem. Fine work Production Manager Gig Giauque, Stage Manager Tod Huffman (Calling a great and complicated show), Set Designer Ron Newell, Lighting Designer Jeff Lockshine (One of the best in the Biz), Sound Designer Bryan Ritchey (lots of sound effects handled beautifully), Costume Designer D. Justin Bilewicz, III (nailing it big time).
I had a great time. If you want to laugh, get out and see this.
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$10-$16 Reserved Seating(440) 331-0403
1371 Clague Road
Westlake, OH 44145