Theatre Information

Chamberlayne Actors Theatre The Fox on the Fairway

By • Oct 22nd, 2012 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
The Fox on the Fairway by Ken Ludwig
Chamberlayne Actors Theatre
CAT Theatre, Richmond, VA
Through November 4th
$18/$16 Student
Reviewed October 19th, 2012

For many reasons, reviewing The Fox on the Fairway at CAT Theater (Chamberlayne Actor’s Theater) as my first full assignment from Richmond’s was very appropriate. First CAT Theater is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. I too have reached this AARP milestone this year. Second, they always say you should “start small.” This small theater, with a small stage, performing with a small cast of six, was indeed small in every way – except for the talent; which was large! The parking lot was ample as well, eliminating the frenetic hunt for spaces one must endure when attending shows downtown.

Directed by Laurie Follmer, the production takes place in a facility, off the beaten paths of downtown Richmond, in a quiet residential neighborhood off Chamberlayne Avenue. It is the perfect setting for this show which takes place in a quiet little country club off the beaten path! The Quail Valley Country Club has lost the annual golf tournament to its rival for the last 5 years, and club manager Mr. Bingham, is determined to find a ringer to win this year and keep his job!

The play is called “a tribute from Ken Ludwig (Lend Me A Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo) to the great English farces of the 1930s and 1940s. The Fox On the Fairway takes audiences on a romp that pulls the rug out from underneath the stuffy denizens of a private country club. Filled with mistaken identities, slamming doors, and over-the-top romantic shenanigans, it’s a furiously paced comedy that recalls the Marx Brothers’ classics.” In many ways, it is also designed both in script and staging to resemble a Greek Comedy (as bits of dialogue remind you throughout the show.)

Director Follmer uses the small stage well, often having cast members come forward to a thrust area of the stage that projects out of the proscenium, bringing the actors slightly into the audiences’ space just like the Greek plays of old. The set is well designed and furnished, and except for one scene towards the end of the play on “the fairway” it was well-lit (an actress came in and out of lighting during that pivotal plot moment). The seating arrangement for the audience was an odd choice. There were 3 sections of removable chairs. For some reason, the theater only set up 2 of the sections, which were just about full. I thought at first, perhaps additional play action would take place in that third section; but it did not. I was left confused and wondering if they wanted to give the illusion of a fuller house rather than allow the audience to spread out and be more comfortable?

One of the funnier “bits” in the play are little sound effect bytes scattered throughout the script to over dramatize or underscore moments. Unfortunately, the audio levels varied drastically, so some were too soft, some were too loud, but others were…just right!

The play starts off energetically, introducing five of the six characters with a voice over narration. Justin (Alex Ireys) and Louise (Celine Daubresse) are young lovers who now work at Quail Valley. Bingham (Denis Riva) and Dickie (Tim Gettemy) are the managers of the rival country clubs. Pamela (Donna Marie Miller) who the voice over identifies as “beautiful and sophisticated” is on the Board of Quail Valley, but is also Dickie’s ex-wife and Bingham’s ex-high school sweetheart. It is not until later in the script we meet the final character Muriel (Kathy Parker) who is Bingham’s wife. The relationships get more and more complex as they play goes on.

The first scene centers around Justin and Louise who bring great energy and enthusiasm to the parts of the young lovers. Ireys brings a touch of Ashton Kutcher ala “Two and a Half Men” to his character – young, good-looking, naïve and yet charming and very likeable. Daubresse’s Louise is equally energetic and likeable, and even more air-headed and innocent than Justin, if that is possible. She brings a touch of “I Love Lucy”; knowing she will do something crazy, cry and then have some ‘splainin’ to do! The plot follows the on again off again relationship of the two as misunderstandings abound. Beware parents, there are a few PG words and even a glimpse of Louise’s bra!

Riva and Gettemy are well suited to their parts. Riva’s Bingham is the consummate serious, all business boss. He serves as the ground wire that keeps the farce believable at times (even at times where the script stretches reality, such as presenting golf tournament rules, then later violating and ignoring them when the plot requires). Meanwhile, Gettemy’s Dickie is the stereotypical arch nemesis. For film buffs, picture “Old Biff” in the “Back to the Future” movies. He is gruff, gravelly and unduly egotistical. Miller (Pamela) seems too young for the part, but carries it well as one part impish Kristen Chenowith and one part comedic Madeline Kahn. She IS the FOX on the Fairway- sexy and seductive. The greatest comedic moments are saved though for Kathy Parker (Muriel) who garnered laughs just by walking on stage. Her stage persona could scare that fox right off the fairway!

The actors were clearly well prepared and well rehearsed and the show moved along nicely. There were occasional minor questions on minor directorial choices such as why have an actress try to stuff a golf ball “subtly” in her pocket rather than just toss it to an actor in the wings; and why brightly light a couple of relatively unnecessary small prop/set changes (which could have either been done either in the dark or by the actors entering and exiting). Either way, The Fox on the Fairway is a hole in one!

Photo Gallery

Photo 1 Photo 2

Photos provided by Chamberlayne Actors Theatre

The Cast

  • Justin: Alex Ireys
  • Louise: Celine Daubresse
  • Bingham: Denis Riva
  • Pamela: Donna Marie Miller
  • Dickie: Tim Gettemy
  • Muriel: Kathy Parker

The Crew

  • Stage Manager: Tiffany Shifflett
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Corey Hull
  • Production Manager: Charlotte Scharff
  • Set Designer: Tennessee Dixon
  • Lighting Design: Myja E. White
  • Costume Design: Starlet Knight
  • Sound Design: Buddy Bishop
  • Props Coordinators: Caroline Tisdale, Teri Tisdale
  • Set Decor: Pam Bryant
  • Set Construction Crew: Lynn Bailes, Pam Bryant, Dick Clark, Dick Collins, Emma Follmer, Laurie Follmer, Mark Follmer, Lin Heath, Elias Menyhart, Rosemarie Mitchell, Caroline Tisdale, Teri Tisdale, Kent Walker, Betty Williams & Bruce Wood
  • Lighting Board Operators: Samantha Campbell & Emma Follmer
  • Photographer: Kinney Thompson
  • House Management Coordinator: Linda Sue Underwood
  • House Management Team: Shari Adams, Lynn Bailes, Christa Marshall, Cindy Pawlick, Anita Resnick, Caroline Tisdale, Will Vehrs
  • Usher Coordinator: Anita Resnick
  • Season Logo/ Poster Artwork: Art Trotter
  • Playbill Coordinator and Layout: Will Vehrs & Tony Turner
  • Director: Laurie Follmer

Disclaimer: Chamberlayne Actors Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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