NAT comes full circle with Room Service

NAT comes full circle with Room Service

By Edith McCauley

By Edith McCauley

Theater Critic

October 1972, and Jim Sullivan begins an enterprise that many said would be impossible to accomplish. From the original program of that first performance, he says, “I am pleased and proud to present the New American Theater company tonight. Room Service is only just the start of what was supposed to be ‘impossible.’ Thank you for coming.”

Previews for the current production of Room Service began on Oct. 2, 2001. The company’s tribute to Sullivan and all those who became a part of his dream was most appropriate. A madcap comedy encompassing every aspect of a 1930’s farce, it was as if an old black and white movie had been colorized. Gordon Miller (Lance A. Retallick) resides in the White Way Hotel. His dream of staging Godspeed, a new work by Leo Davis (Keith Conway), seems doomed. His brother-in-law and manager of the hotel, Joseph Gribble (Dan Rodden), is frantic. Gregory Wagner (Josh Burton), the company’s accountant, has arrived, and the unpaid bills of the company are soon to be discovered. Harry Binion (Kevin McKillip), the harried director, and Faker Englund (Rob Howard) add to the confusion.

Comic situations involving physical interaction, one-liners and ridiculous accents are Richard Raether’s forte. Choreographing movement in a limited space requires a special talent, and he has it. Several scenes are memorable: W. Scott Chachula as Sasha Smirnoff, the Russian waiter auditioning for a part in Godspeed, Retallick, Rodden and McKillip donning an entire wardrobe before bolting the hotel, Burton’s wild ravings always ending with an obscenity, and Conway’s dramatic death scene. Charla Mason (Christine Marlowe) and Toni Grates (Hilda Manney) lend a female presence to the male-dominated cast. Several local citizens, Stephen W. Carty, B.J. Jackson and Edward Light, appear in brief roles. Larry Rucker, long associated with NAT, clowns beautifully, and Elizabeth A. Hartman debuts as the Bank Messenger. All involved projected to the audience their sense of fun. Zany comedy relieves tension, and we need a few laughs.

A reception following the performance in the newly refurbished lobby gave us the opportunity to see how well the space works. A mirrored back bar and several pedestal tables enabled the crowd to enjoy dessert and drinks in a roomier area. The colors (aubergine, mustard and several greens) work well with the patterned aubergine carpet. The glass case containing a variety of unusual gift items attracts patrons eager to help the economy.

Season tickets are still on sale for The Wizard of Oz, Romeo and Juliet, Wait Until Dark and Ain’t Misbehavin’. Room Service runs through Oct. 28. Tickets are available by calling 964-6282. Note: This is a three-act play. Don’t leave after Act II.

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