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Fan favorite 'Move Over, Mrs. Markham' returns to Stage West

Standing, from left, are Ryan Rogers as Phillip Markham and Patrick Gonzalez as Alistair Spenlow. Front row, from left, are Patrick Moran as Henry Lodge, M.J. Rice as Olive Harriet Smythe and Jessica Virginia as Joanna Markham.

Special to the Times

Standing, from left, are Ryan Rogers as Phillip Markham and Patrick Gonzalez as Alistair Spenlow. Front row, from left, are Patrick Moran as Henry Lodge, M.J. Rice as Olive Harriet Smythe and Jessica Virginia as Joanna Markham.

When the comedy Move Over, Mrs. Markham first played at Stage West Community Playhouse in May 1996, audiences voted the zany sex farce eight out of the 13 HAMI Awards for that year, including favorite show, best director and best actor awards to six actors in every available category. • No surprise, then, that when patrons were asked to vote for which shows they would like to see again in celebration of the theater's 30th anniversary, they over-whelmingly voted for this Ray Cooney show.

Like other Cooney shows (Run For Your Wife, Caught in the Net, It Runs In the Family), Mrs. Markham is a happy-go-lucky look at marital infidelity, with mistaken identities, slamming doors, double entendres and lots of sexy talk — though no hint of actual sex.

In it, longtime marrieds Joanna and Phillip Markham (Jessica Virginia, HAMIs for Everything in the Garden and The Foreigner; Ryan Rogers, Mortimer in Arsenic and Old Lace) are persuaded to let their friends and business partners try out the stunning new red bed in their London apartment while the Markhams are out for a night.

Phillip's business partner in a children's book publishing house, Henry Lodge (Patrick Moran, chorus of Joseph/Dreamcoat), wants to bring his honey over for a snuggle. His wife, Linda (Jennifer Vilardi, HAMI as Jennifer in Murder on the Nile), hears about the bed, and she wants to bring over her lover, Walter Pangbourne (Stan Kane, HAMI as Neville in The Secret Garden).

At the same time as these two couples are set to show up, the Markham's au pair, young Sylvie (Kaela Koch, Stage West newcomer) has planned a tryst with her sweetie, decorator Alistair Spenlow (Patrick Gonzalez, Stage West newcomer).

As these three couples sneak into the Markham apartment one by one, Phillip finds a love note written by one of them and thinks that his wife, Joanna, is fooling around — and goes ballistic.

The count is up to eight people, dashing from one bed to the next, hiding in closets, cavorting around in skimpy clothes, and working like mad, either not to get caught, or to catch.

Into this melee comes the staid, prim and proper Mrs. Smythe (M.J. Rice, HAMIs in Table Manners, A Shot in the Dark, On Golden Pond), the premiere star of Phillip and Henry's stable of children's book writers. What will Mrs. Smythe make of all the hanky-panky? And what will it mean for Phillip and Henry's financial future?

First-time director Mitch Gonzalez has his hands full herding around nine very active actors playing near-panicked characters on a complicated set where you never know who will be behind any one of the many doors.

And since this is a sex farce, it's recommended for those age 16 and older.

>>If you go

Move Over, Mrs. Markham

Where: The Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday and Feb. 11, 12, 18 and 19; 2 p.m. Feb. 13 and 20.

Ticket: $10, reserved seating. Box office is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and one hour before each show. Call (352) 683-5113. (Recommended for ages 16 and older.)

Fan favorite 'Move Over, Mrs. Markham' returns to Stage West 02/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 3:50pm]

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