While Moon Over Buffalo might sound like the start of a New York weather report, it's actually a madcap comedy and Eight O'Clock Theatre's latest production.
The farce, which opened Friday, is a glimpse into the private lives of George and Charlotte Hay, two fading theater stars in 1950s Buffalo. The comedy, written by Ken Ludwig, marked Carol Burnett's return to Broadway after a 30-year absence. Burnett's appearance in the role of Charlotte in 1995 at the Martin Beck Theatre earned her a Tony nomination.
When Kate Gaudet, who plays Charlotte Hay, heard the theater was putting on Moon Over Buffalo, she couldn't wait to audition. "I've wanted to play this part ever since Carol Burnett starred in the play on Broadway," said Gaudet, of Clearwater. "For me, this is the role of a lifetime."
In the play, Charlotte's talent agent, Richard, played by Bill Harber of Dunedin, is head over heels for her. She welcomes his attention. In fact, she's heading out the door to have lunch with him, when her husband, George, played by Gary L. Smith, 58, of Clearwater, receives some startling news. Eileen, the company ingenue, played by Melissa Labiak, 25, of Largo, is carrying his baby.
When Charlotte hears of George's one-night stand, she walks out for good. That is, until she learns that George wasn't lying when he said movie man Frank Capra would be attending that day's matinee. And, if Capra likes what he sees, he will cast George as leading man in the movie remake of The Scarlet Pimpernel. And guess who George promised to choose for his leading lady? But when Charlotte returns backstage to find George, he's missing.
"From the beginning, we've all been laughing at the lines in the play," said director Judy Becotte of Largo. "This is our 25th rehearsal, and we're still laughing. This is a great cast, and we've had a lot of fun. They've had to learn to say their lines and keep a straight face."
Costume mixups and a bottle of booze add to the pandemonium, and soon the Buffalo acting troupe isn't sure whether it's presenting Cyrano de Bergerac or Noel Coward's Private Lives for that matinee.
Funny lines and wacky antics turn the backstage set into comedic chaos. Actors run in and out of slamming doors, swearing and missing each other by seconds.
"An American farce is different from an English and French farce," Smith said. "The American farce is more energetic and more fun."