As the beloved (or bemoaned) Valentine’s Day holiday approaches, the less-well-scheduled of my gender are only now beginning to sweat the dreaded “plans” questions (or at least, they should be).
Questions such as: “What are our plans?” “Have you made plans?” “Have you thought about making plans?” “Why haven’t you made the plans yet?” and “How about you and your lack of plans find somewhere else to sleep?”
Rejoice, my fellow play-by-ear types! A Valentine’s Day Weekend gift has arrived in the form of Getting Sarah Married: a funny-but-not-ironic, kinetic-but-not-frenetic and sweet-but-not-saccharine meltaway of a romantic comedy. This delightful live stage charmer had its debut Saturday night at the Unicorn Theatre in Catasauqua, PA to a nearly-full but fully entertained house.
The well-constructed core of this nutty confection comes courtesy of a long-time professional television writer turned stage scribe named Sam Bobrick. Did you like Saved By The Bell growing up? Or maybe you watched Bewitched? Ever giggle at The Flinstones? If so, you can partially thank Sam who was in the writer’s room on these and many other beloved TV classics.
Enrobing this sweet center of silly words with an outer shell of well-done comedic performances comes a newborn troupe of actors calling themselves The Art Plx. Careless spelling aside, the Art Plx players made an impressive showing in the challenging gallery space of the Unicorn. Beginning with the male and female leads, who as the captains of a romantic comedy must perform the theatrical equivalent of CrossFit athletes: lots of heavy lifting that must be made to look like effortless fun. Nicole Anderson (our titular Sarah Hastings) and Brian Welsko (the bonked and bewildered potential suitor, Brandon Cates) accomplish this task with nutty but believable roles as the couple whom fate, concussions and hand trucks want to bring together.
Sprinkle on some deft character performances by the single-minded matchmaker Aunt Martha played with excellent eccentricity by Marcy Repp, and the rascally resourceful “Noogie” played by Jonathan Fehnel as well as a strong-handed but silent chiro played by Cory Stevens, and this treat is served!
The quirks of producing local theatre in the absence of collegiate funding or major foundation support pervaded the proceedings but mostly went unnoticed by the audience. Lighting was a bit flat, shadows a tad harsh, and an uncooperative door flat is an uncooperative door flat. In a lesser show, these mishaps would have glared. In such frothy earnest-ness as was enacted last night, they gleamed. That scoundrel of a misbehaved door flat even took its own bow as the audience guffawed and howled. In the end, what matters most in a romantic comedy is twofold: 1) did they sell you on the comedy and 2) did you buy into the chemistry? Both transactions were handled handily by this new group of artists, and they are wished well on their future pursuits.
A special note of appreciation is given to the director of the show, Patti Squire, who stepped into that role a scant two weeks before the curtain rose Saturday night and is to be commended for leading her actors fearlessly on into the fray.
So if you are a guy and if you have a girl and if you’d like to make that girl think you’re wise, sophisticated and blessed with a sense of humor, stop reading here. Now. I’m not kidding because I know she won’t be, and order tickets to see Getting Sarah Married, you crazy kids who just might make a go of this crazy little thing called Love. The oatmeal flung on stage may be mushy and plastic, but the comedy was firm and the romance sweet