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April 8, 2009

ENCHANTED APRIL



Pictured (right) Kerri Shawn/Joseph Rende in Enchanted April





Lee Hartgrave Reviews

ENCHANTED APRIL

WHY CAN’T THE ENGLISH BE MORE LIKE ITALIANS?

Enchanted April is this season’s romantic comedy to see. This warm hearted story about four women who are bored with their lives find a way to get away from the boredom when they answer an ad in a newspaper that offers an Italian Castle in a dream setting for rent.

This play is based on the 1922 novel by British writer Elizabeth von Arnim – and has been made into a movie two times. The most recent in 1992. The play starts on a dreary rainy day in England. Lotty Wilton, a young housewife notices an ad in a newspaper about a Mediterranean castle in Northern Italy that is available for sublet in the month of April. She visions wisteria and a break away from the rainy weather at home.

Lotty talks a friend from a women’s club to go with her – and she also recruits a young socialite who wants to get out of the spotlight and an older woman Mrs. Graves (think Kathryn Hepburn) who is mean spirited and demanding. Will this mix of friends really get along? You find out as the story unravels to hilarious conclusions. This play is truly a story that everyone can identify with. We all would like to escape from the daily routine at some time in our lives, and what could be better than a charming castle in Italy. I’m ready to go.

The best part of the evening in this play is the sterling cast. Throughout, they keep the integrity of the characters. Their talents are what make this comic drama, so colorful, refreshing and quirky. Believe me – this is real fun that will be a hit for the whole family.

Kerri Shawn as the Italian Housekeeper (Costanza) shows terrific star power. She is such a natural actor that you really believe that she was imported from Italy for this role. Lizzie Calogero (Lotty Wilton) is delightful and fascinating. Or, as she says in the play “Marvelous!” Steve Irish (Frederick Arnott) in a small role gives a swell performance. Suzanne Irving (Rose Arnott) brings a plain Jane Housewife to bloom among the flowers of Italy. Remarkable! Wanda McCaddon (Mrs. Graves) is audacious and impressive. If they ever make a film about Kathryn Hepburn – she should get the part. Alex Moggride – (Mellersh Wilton) again gives a fantastic performance as a stiff-upper lip Englishman who finally lets it all hang out (Literally). What fun he brings to the show. Joseph Rende (Antony Wilding). This role was made for him. He is cool, collected and charming and most of all believable. Awesome! Maryssa Wanlass (Caroline Bramble) as the mysterious Socialite, who dresses to the nines in fantastic costumes by Maggie Morgan. Bramble is Jazzy and sharp as a tack. Absolutely superior acting!

EXTRAS: Michael Butler (Director/Artistic Director) has given us an amazing visual experience. Spectacular job! Scenic Designer (Kelly Tighe) gave us a monumental accomplishment that added immensely to the show. David Lee Cuthbert’s lighting made my day. Brilliant! And I must mention the Wig Designer Judy Disbrow worked magic with “Hair”. Remarkable imagination!

NOW PLAYING AT THE CENTER REP THEATRE IN THE LESHER ENTERTAINMENT CENTER IN WALNUT CREEK.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-

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AND THAT’S A WRAP!!!!
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