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West Coast Players' 'Moon Over Buffalo' pokes fun at theater

Charlotte Hay (Samantha Parisi) duels with husband George (Bill Harber) as he holds Howard (Rudy Gonzalez) hostage in rehearsal of West Coast Players’ Moon Over Buffalo.
Charlotte Hay (Samantha Parisi) duels with husband George (Bill Harber) as he holds Howard (Rudy Gonzalez) hostage in rehearsal of West Coast Players’ Moon Over Buffalo.
Published Aug. 14, 2014

CLEARWATER — Moon Over Buffalo, a comical romp by Ken Ludwig, shines bright at the West Coast Players Theatre tonight through Aug. 24.

The show could be the most well-rehearsed community theater presentation the bay area has ever seen.

"It's been nine months in the making and we are ready to deliver,'' director Pat Clark said.

The saga began in November when a cast was chosen to perform the comedy for a new start-up dinner theater at the Italian-American Club on McMullen Booth Road.

By March the show was ready to go but a week before they were to open, the dinner theater folded and the cast and crew were left stranded with no stage in sight.

Then West Coast Players came to the rescue, offering the orphaned troupe the first slot of their new season.

This is not the first mishap involving the West Coast Players. When the theater group found and renovated a permanent home in 2008, it was shut down on opening night by the fire marshal.

But now the group is ready — really ready — to soar with Moon and a freshly renovated theater. New cushy red velvet seats have been placed on risers for better viewing. A new air conditioning system and sound and light board have been installed.

During dress rehearsal, the lines were crisp, hilarious and delivered at the speed of light.

Acting veterans Bill Harber and Samantha Parisi play George and Charlotte Hay, two narcissistic hams married for 35 years who run a struggling repertory company that performs two shows: the "revised, one nostril version" of Cyrano de Bergerac and Noel Coward's Private Lives.

When George learns that filmmaker Frank Capra is coming to town to watch their matinee, he is overjoyed at the thought of potential stardom in Capra's new movie.

But there is trouble in 1953 Buffalo. George has been fooling around with Eileen (Angela Kennedy), an ingenue who is now with child. Charlotte may run off with their lawyer Richard (Stephan Bielawski). And Charlotte's mother (Rosalyn Savel) is a tiny matriarch who only hears about every other word, but never misses a beat when it comes to putting poor George down.

Frustrated, George turns to the bottle and naturally, chaos ensues.

Suzanne Delaney, who plays Rosalind, the Hays' daughter, gives a hilarious performance as she tries to cover for an inebriated George and a confused cast that are unwittingly performing a mash-up of both Cyrano and Private Lives during the matinee where Capra is supposedly attending.

"The second act is about as funny as it gets,'' Clark said.

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