Janice Zucker, left, is Abby and Marsha Rehns is Marilyn in Ripcord now on stage at Little Theatre of Alexandria/Photo by Matthew Randall
I loved this show. It's solid entertainment: You cry, you laugh, listen and wonder: Is that me?
It was much more than expected: delightful, charming, funny, and with a message or two.
Janice Zucker is Abby and Matt Baughman is the "masked man" in Ripcord now on stage at Little Theatre of Alexandria/Photo by Matthew Randall
Before the show started, the Little Theatre of Alexandria treated the audience to "air" music which made me happy, hearing John Denver singing Leaving on a Jet Plane and Frank Sinatra, Come Fly with Me .
The whimsical music between scenes perfectly fit the content.
It's a production which grows on you, building while the dialogue develops, rather like a skydiver whose speed and momentum climb while falling. What appears at the beginning to be a slow, easy-going play ends up much more than what this theatergoer expected, and it's unpredictable! One of the best features.
Two little old ladies are roommates at a "senior living facility"; one, "Abby" (Janice Zucker), meaner than a rattlesnake you might surprise on the desert, and the other, "Marilyn" (Marsha Rehns), as sweet as strawberry pie which matches the colors she wears. (Costumers Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley realistically dress the two in colors to match their personalities, with one later experiencing a color transformation.)
It doesn't take long for this duo of mismatched to engage in banner and wits to see who can win a bet: To make one roommate angry, and the other, afraid.
Shall we say, they go to extremes to win the bet?
The acting is whiz-bang. If you think this will be as motionless as life in the slow lane (like that boring film of old people portrayed in this year's Mole Agent ), you ain't seen nuthin' yet!
Daughter "Colleen" (Kathy Ohlhaber has dual roles) is shrieking dynamic, accompanied by two (Adam Ressa and Matt Baughman, both in multiple roles) who help her with "tricks." Let's fly away and have fun while we're doing it!
Rounding out the cast is "Scotty" (Cameron McBride), the nurse who leads the roommates on life at their "home."
Although the program calls him a "masked man," Mr. Baughman appeared to me to be a man wearing a rabbit's head, and just thinking about this scene, even before a word was spoken from the stage, made me laugh out loud.
Other scenes are right out funny, too. A hanging got my goat, but good. The Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, David Lindsay-Abaire must have had some experience with nursing homes.
The bedroom's set is realistic (by Jim Hutzler and
Jocelyn Steiner), efficiently covered several times by a dropdown sheet of excellent artistry to convey a new scene, like a bench at a park, a skyride, or parachuting from an airplane.
Simple enough, yes?
Abby receives a "ripcord" for life. While I watched, I thought: "Oh, please, Lord, don't let it be me! There but for the grace of God go I" for I know two little old ladies who are almost the same and could use a "ripcord" prescription and maybe, more than one. (They probably think I could stand one, too!)
Applause to the sound and projection designer (Jon Roberts assisted by Brook Easterly) who handles multiple tasks, adding much enjoyment to the show.
I must agree with Director Jessie Roberts who writes in program notes that playwright Lindsay-Abaire is underappreciated. I can't wait to see his Rabbit Hole.
Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a wild, hilarious ride in Alexandria.
Other production team members for the show are Lynn O'Connell and Alan Wray, producers; Robert Kraus, assistant producer; Brittany Huffman and Donna Reynolds, stage managers; Stacey Becker, set painter;Jeff Auerbach and Kimberly Crago, lighting designers; Kadira Coley, hair and makeup; Jamie Blake and Julie Naughton, wardrobe
Thank you, LTA, for the printed program!
What: Ripcord by David Lindsay-Abaire
When: Now through June 26, 2021, Wednesday through Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m.
Where: Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.
Tickets: $24 + $$3.09 handling fee. Wednesday and Thursday performances are discounted $3 with code WEDTHUR.
Duration: About 2 hours with one 10-minute pause stretch.
Public transportation: Check the Metro and Dash bus websites.
Parking: On the streets and in many garages nearby with free parking during performances at Capital One Bank at Wilkes and Washington streets.
For more information: Box Office: 703-683-0496; Business: 703-683-5778. Asklta@thelittletheatre.com