Vista’s Broadway Theatre continues to produce comedies that fly under the radar. The latest example at the venue, Nana’s Naughty Knickers!, provides an extremely light evening of entertainment.
In New York City, Bridget Charles (Katie Heniser), goes to live with her Nana, Sylvia Charles (Kimberly Wooldridge,) for the summer. Bridget believes her stay will be low-key and relaxing. However, she soon realizes that her seemingly innocent grandmother is running an unlicensed business designing and selling lingerie to senior citizens.
Bridget wants Sylvia to stop, but the young at heart free spirit believes she is bringing joy to others. Making matters more complicated is Sylvia’s landlord, Gil Schmidt (Lou Slocum). He is looking to find an excuse to kick Sylvia out of her rent controlled apartment.
Katherine DiSavino’s script plays like an extended episode of an old-fashioned sitcom. The jokes are quick, quirky characters are around every corner and awkward misunderstandings ensue.
Some plays suffer when they provide a TV-like atmosphere, but DiSavino’s script succeeds overall. She fully commits to the wacky plot. DiSavino does not complicate the story by adding in forced drama to contrast with the intentionally simple narrative.
Broadway Theatre co-owner, Randall Hickman, embraces the wacky atmosphere, rarely slowing the pace once the narrative gets going. He stages all the conflicts with a good amount of comedic tenseness, making the audience question if Bridget and Sylvia’s problems can be neatly resolved.
Hickman’s set design appears pleasant enough at first glance. Furniture, paintings and other decorations are featured in the East Coast dowager’s abode. Yet, there are visual surprises in store thanks to his use of trap doors full of Sylvia’s business items.
Song choices, courtesy of soundboard operator, Katie Silva, introduces each act in a jolly manner. “When I’m Sixty Four” and “Yakety Sax,” which was popularized on “The Benny Hill Show,” enhance the good mood throughout the night. Though background music, during conversations, occasionally felt excessive. There were a few instances where several lines were drowned out by the incidental music.
Once Bridget is introduced, she becomes the audience’s surrogate, questioning the strange events happening all around her. Heniser refuses to be a stiff “straight man” and plays her character’s frequent aggravation with frequent humor. Some will see Heniser’s behavior as too broad, but her reactions fit the tightly wound voice of reason.
Bridget quickly falls for Officer Tom O’Grady (Jacob Hatch). Heniser’s chemistry with Hatch is undeniable and they share several charmingly affectionate moments together.
Much more relaxed and calm is Wooldridge’s portrayal of Sylvia. In spite of not following the law, Sylvia is a positive role model with a live life to the fullest outlook.
Sylvia’s close friend, Vera Charles(Marilyn Woolfe), is not quite as fleshed out as her golden-ager pal. DiSavino’s dialogue goes for easy jokes regarding Vera’s poor hearing and bad driving skills. The playwright’s jabs aren’t necessarily offensive, but they feel cliché. Despite that, Woolfe elevates the role with her quick-witted timing and rapport with the other performers.
Like many comedies, it’s hard to really discuss Nana’s Naughty Knickers! without talking about the numerous punchlines in the script. So, theatregoers should go in as cold as possible, in order to obtain a more laugh out loud experience.
Nana’s Naughty Knickers! offers retro charm for viewers. It’s comical comfort food that’s well worth the investment of time.