One could argue that next to Neil Simon, the most popular playwright in community theater is Ray Cooney, creator of some of the zaniest sex farces in the English language (or any other, for that matter).
Cooney's creations — Run for Your Wife, It Runs in the Family, Move Over Mrs. Markham, Wife Begins at Forty — have filled theaters and won awards in the area for almost two decades.
For its first play of the season, Richey Suncoast Theatre is bringing back a Cooney favorite, Run for Your Wife, first presented there in May 1993 to packed houses. Nearly a decade later, the comedy helped launch the career of now-professional actor Justin Sargent when he played the lead in the Stage West Community Playhouse version in September 2002.
In it, nondescript London cabbie John Smith (Bob Marcela, Tommy Award as Horace in Hello, Dolly!) is managing two wives in two different households in the London suburbs. In the mornings, he stays with Mary (Joanne Larson, Ms. Bell in Fame) in one part of town. In the evenings, he's with Barbara (Star Verosic, Appassionata von Climax in Li'l Abner) in another part of town.
He has worked out a nifty code in his notebook to keep up with it all: CDWB is Cuddly Day With Barbara; MWMLWB is Morning With Mary Lunch With Barbara.
All goes well until John helps a sweet little old lady fend off muggers, becomes a hero and his picture lands in all the newspapers — which land on the doorsteps of his two wives.
As he scrambles with the consequences of his, uh, lifestyle, John enlists the aid of his unemployed upstairs buddy Stanley Gardner (Rich Aront, Tommy Award as Mayor Shinn in The Music Man), while Detective Porterhouse (Bill Schommer, Tommy Award for the Handyman in My Husband's Wild Desires) and Detective Throughton (Mark Lewis, Mayor Dawgmeat in Li'l Abner) start snooping around.
They're interrupted by John's flamboyant neighbor Bobby Franklyn (Joe Connolly, Everett in Crazy for You) and a snoopy newspaper reporter (Tim Allen, Evil Eye Fleagle in Li'l Abner).
There's lots of slam-bang and ducking in and out of apartments as John tries to keep two wives happy and unaware of each other while fending off a possible prison term for bigamy.