Bringing a classic ‘60s Broadway comedy to the Sidney stage, the Peninsula Players are presenting Last of the Red Hot Lovers, opening May 15 at the Mary Winspear.
Written by Neil Simon, the multiple Oscar- and Tony-nominated playwright and screenwriter also known for Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple, Last of the Red Hot Lovers follows married and middle-aged Barney Cashman as he desperately attempts to join the sexual revolution before it’s too late.
“He hits a midlife crisis and seizes the opportunity with the aims of lascivious intent, and fails miserably,” says director Matt Watson.
The overworked and overweight Barney arranges three seductions: Elaine Navazio, the foul-mouthed sexpot with a predilection for other women’s husbands; Bobbi Michele, a 20-something actress friend who turns out to be madder than a hatter; and Jeanette Fisher, a staunch moralist who happens to be married to Barney’s best friend.
“The characters of the ladies brought into his suite are what drives the comedy,” says Watson.
“It’s more about the motives that drove them there.”
While the subject matter dances around the risqué topics of adultery and sexual exploration, on-stage it’s really all about Barney’s foibles, he adds.
“It’s a little bit about how he changes through it all, but this is a strict comedy,” says Watson, laughing. “There’s very little to be had in social commentary.”
Watson, who has served as both director and actor with the Peninsula Players several times before, says casting for the play was a challenge, but not for the usual reasons.
Normally, the troupe has an abundance of women and they have a harder time getting the men to audition. But for Simon’s play, Geoffrey Davidson was cast as Barney Cashman almost immediately and Watson and company found it more difficult finding the perfect fit for Cashman’s three would-be conquests.
Fortunately, the talents of Melanie Ehrlich (Elaine), Carla Girvin (Bobbi), and Clare Wedgewood (Jeanette) prevailed, each bringing their flair and personalities to the characters.
It’s a show well worth seeing, says Watson.
“It’s very funny!”
Performances run at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 15 and Saturday, May 16, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 17 at the Charlie White Theatre at the Mary Winspear Centre, 2243 Beacon Avenue.
Tickets are $15.75 to $18.90, available at the box office, marywinspear.ca or by calling 250-656-0275.
Performances also open tonight at Berwick Royal Oak.
For more information, visit thepeninsulaplayers.ca.