If you're in the mood for two-plus hours of light-hearted laughs and zany situations, you could do no better than There Goes the Bride, the Ray Cooney and John Chapman farce playing weekends through Nov. 6 at Richey Suncoast Theatre.
It's classic bedroom mockery, except it takes place in the living room of on-again, off-again bride Judy Westerby (a charmingly pouty Allison Iskowitz). And though it has a few "damns," "hells" and mentions of premarital sex and sly winks about sexual orientation, it's as innocent as the phantom kitty that scampers about in the script.
Bride is set in the present, and director Jim Laird has moved it to Pasco County, with references to Tampa and Ybor City to make it feel more immediate.
The action starts as Judy is donning her wedding gown so she can get to the church on time to wed the never-seen groom, Nicholas Babcock.
Judy's dad, Timothy (the reliably funny Jim Poe), a partner in an ad agency, seems more concerned with an upcoming ad campaign for a client's brassieres than he is with his daughter's nuptials, despite the grumbles of his wife Ursula (a smoothly cool Vicki Knapp). Ad agency partner Bill Shorter (a suave Nate Danger Sakovich, who would be equally comfortable in a Noel Coward drawing room comedy) accidentally helps Tim come up with a good slogan involving Flapper girls from the 1920s.
The hilarity starts when Judy's grandfather, Dr. Gerald Drimmond (the gifted comic Bill Schommer) bursts through the door and sends Timothy to the floor with a head bump, and a real Flapper Girl, Polly Perkins (an adorable Yve Cedrez), suddenly appears, dancing and cavorting around the room in spangles and shimmy fringe and a big feather on her head.
The problem is, Tim is the only one who can see her, totally confusing the bride's grandmother, Daphne Drimmond (a drolly sophisticated Ginny Fraebel) and nearly undoing Judy's future father-in-law Charles Babcock (Rick Giordande, whose facial expressions and double-takes are priceless).
This, of course, leads to classic Cooney (Run for Your Wife, Caught in the Net) misunderstandings, double entendres, goofy antics and arm-waving, while providing all-around belly laughs for those in the audience. Subsequent head bumps simply escalate the hilarity, though it all works out in the end.
Perhaps it was opening night jitters, but the evening had a few awkward pauses when key players struggled to remember what came next in what is written to be a fast-paced show. It can be hoped that future performances will tighten up as the actors settle into the situation.
That said, notice especially Schommer's hard-of-hearing Dr. Drimmond, who was right on cue and in fine form with his wacky retorts and body language, a real treat for eyes and ears. What a talent. Kudos, too, to the crew, especially Bruce Van Dusen's spot-on sound effects and to set designer Charles Skelton and his construction crew, who provided a solid, impressive, workable background for the action.