Comedy and romance combine for an irresistible mixture in Lamb’s Players Theatre’s charming production of Ring Round the Moon. Staged by Producing Artistic Director, Robert Smyth, and Associate Artistic Director and director of Patron Services, Deborah Gilmour Smyth, the evening satisfies with smart laughs delivered by an excellent ensemble.
Based on the Jean Anouilh play, L’Invitation au Chateau, the plot takes place in a Country Manor House in 1912, France. Staying at the estate is a set of twin brothers; one being Hugo (Brian Mackey) a self-centered narcissistic upper class gentleman, and his goodhearted and naive brother, Frederic (Mackey).
For reasons revealed as the story unfolds, Hugo invites a poor ballet dancer, Isabelle (Joy Yvonne Jones), to a ball at the home. Though Hugo treats others poorly, Isabelle develops feelings for him.
Fry’s 1950 adaptation of Anouilh’s original 1947 script gets a lot of laughs out of the sharp observations from the characters. Each scene is written with intelligence, whether it’s Hugo giving a pessimistic speech, or Hugo and Frederic’s aunt, The Dowager Countess (Ms. Smyth), sharing wise advice.
There’s a simple and effective message from Fry that ties into the cliché, “money isn’t everything.” This theme is presented in sequences that are often humorous, and sometimes deep.
Mr. Smyth and Ms. Smyth direct the Coronado interpretation in a style that gradually builds to the ball at the center of the narrative. They also incorporate Mike Buckley’s set and Jeanne Reith’s costumes, to depict a visually beautiful early 1900’s setting.
Ring Round the Moon is pleasing both from a visual and audio perspective, due to dance duets shared by Donny Gersonde and Siri Hafso (choreographed by these two co-stars and Ms. Smyth) and music sung and performed by co-star/musician, Angela Chatelain Avila.
Outside of a few lines flubbed during an early performance, the ensemble was hilariously amusing throughout the night.
Mackey portrays the two well-developed twins, with fantastic physical movement and vocal delivery. His quick exits and entrances are sidesplittingly funny.
Having about as much stage time as Mackey, Jones plays Isabelle with graceful conviction. Theatergoers will be in awe of the dramatic range she is able to convey in the lighthearted rendition.
Yolanda Marie Franklin, Rachael VanWormer and John Rosen seem to be having a blast playing their roles, which adds to the appeal of the engaging evening.
In addition, Ms. Smyth, David McBean and Manny Fernandes portray comical people, who turn out to be more complex than expected. Each of them is able to handle semi-serious moments with impressive subtlety.
Mr. and Ms. Smyth’s terrific direction, the strong ensemble and Fry’s comical writing makes for a wonderful time at Ring Round the Moon. There’s so much to appreciate about Fry’s pleasant and breezy story.