Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Bloody Good Time at Parker Playhouse


Bloody Good Fun at “The BBC Murders”

By Skip Sheffield

Bloody good fun is afoot through Feb. 3 at Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale.
“Agatha Christie’s The BBC Murders” is part history lesson, part variety show, and wickedly good fun throughout.
“The BBC Murders” marks the return of longtime South Florida theater impresario Zev Bufman to the local scene. Bufman produced Broadway-caliber theater for three decades starting before Parker Playhouse’s grand opening in 1967.
Bufman pulled out all the stops for opening night of “The BBC’ murders, with the Fort Lauderdale Highlanders bagpipers, vintage British cars, and costumed period British characters mingling about the opening reception.
The production is based on actual BBC radio scripts dating back as far as 1937, adapted by Judith Walcutt and David Ossman.
The set-up is Dame Agatha contemplating writing her autobiography at age 75 in 1965. The Christie character is played by Melinda Peterson, a Los Angeles-based actress who has been seen in a number of South Florida productions.
The large cast is a mix of talented local professionals and Broadway, TV and road show professionals Bufman has worked with before. Top-billed Gary Sandy is best-known for his role of Andy Travis in “WKRP in Cincinnati,” but he has appeared in more than 100 theatrical productions worldwide. His characters in this show are either pompous, lecherous or both, Phil Proctor was first known as a founder member of the innovative Firesign Theatre comedy troupe. His extensive credits include co-starring with Bob Cummings 50 years ago at Parker. Richard Fish has worked in audio theater since 1970. Leslie Staples was classically trained in London and is a veteran of the British stage.
Angie Radosh is a familiar face to South Florida audiences, as is Elizabeth Dimon.
Younger players include Alex Jorth, Orson Ossman, Christopher Swan, Amy Walker and the multi-talented ingénue, Cassie Post.
The first piece is “Butter in a Lordly Dish,’ first performed by the BBC Jan. 13, 1948. We learn from Dame Agatha the title is a biblical quote (Judges 5:25) which figures in a plot of murder most foul.
The Bible was a frequent source of inspiration for Dame Christie, as were old nursery rhymes. It was “Three Blind Mice’ that inspired Christie’s most successful play, “The Mousetrap,” which is the longest-running play running play in history.  The original was first performed May 30, 1947, and we see it in its entirety.
Part of the fun of “BBC Murders” is its recreation onstage of a live radio studio, with Tony Brewer and Lauren Allison twisting dials and making sound effects.
Zev Bufman says “The BBC Murders” is a trial balloon for possibly more shows at the beautiful but under-used Parker Playhouse. I hope the public supports this new venture.
Tickets are $26.50-$66.50 and may be reserved by calling 954-462-0222.

Idealism and Hot Romance in “The Royal Affair”

Set in 1766, “The Royal Affair” is the true story of the childish, eventually mad Danish King Christian VII (MikkelBoe Folsgaard) and his young, headstrong, lonely Queen Caroline Mathilda (Alicia Vikander) and Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelson), hired as the royal physician and advisor, but evolving into something much more, including lover of the Queen and fomenter of a democratic revolution.
“Royal Affair’ is a ripping good romance and tale of political intrigue in a time when royalty ruled as absolute despots. It is never dull, visually beautiful and often quite sensual, with a poignant, bittersweet finale.

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