Milford’s new Elvis play captivates audiences on opening night
Eastbound Theatre, Milford: Having seen “4 Weddings and an Elvis” before, Nancy Frick’s play at its best is all about fun. That’s just what opening night audiences at Eastbound experienced — lots and lots of fun. Eastbound Theatre’s current production of this play is quite popular and is selling out performances. Perhaps the Elvis connection has something to do with it. However, on opening night, the community theater cast of 11 local actors gave their characters their best efforts, some succeeding more than others, but the audience went wild for all of it — the actors as well as the play.
This goes to show that when your family, friends, neighbors or fellow workers come out to see a community stage production, excitement is real and contagious. It’s not easy at any level for an actor to step on stage, but when the people you know do it, there is something special about seeing them perform.
This was definitely the case at Milford’s cabaret production, which is another plus for the theater. Bringing your own food and beverages, and sitting comfortably at a table with friends is a plus for many. Still, the theater does offer Sunday matinees with traditional seating in rows, for those who prefer that experience. Whichever way you like it, it is available at Eastbound.
In all honesty, the performance I attended had the most enthusiastic audience this reviewer has ever experienced. They took every opportunity to cheer on the actors with spontaneous applause and plenty of laughter at the comic lines. At one point members of the audience even sang along with the Elvis character. That’s why an audience is a requirement of a live theater production; otherwise, it’s just a staged reading of a script. It’s important to note that the audiences’ response or lack of it is definitely recognized by the actors on stage.
This two-act comedy is set in a small Las Vegas wedding chapel. Sandy, the owner, has been married and divorced four times to the same man. She has seen many weddings in her years at the helm of this business and quickly sizes up the three couples that enter the chapel. The first couple wants revenge on their spouses. The second duo are has-been celebrities who just want publicity and the third couple is the real thing. The fourth couple will be Sandy and the man she finally decides to marry.
The characters are essentially stereotypes and stock characters, which often leads to overacting and which is the case for several actors here. Not all the actors have the same level of skill, but all do their best to bring their characters to life.
Colleen Leary plays Sandy, Kevin Sisounthone plays Stan/Producer, Jennifer Ju plays a convincing Bev, Cody Knox plays John, Tom Torpey plays Lou, Thursday Savage does a fine job as Vanessa Wells, Paul Templeton plays Bryce, Nicholas Nunez plays Marvin Marvel, Stephanie Lodice as Fiona is a natural and her outstanding performance confirms this. Herman Livingston as Fist, an ex-convict and Fiona’s former lover, delivers a memorable performance. Wiping his tears at Fiona’s wedding illustrates his attention to detail and makes his performance believable.
Tanya Feduik-Smith directs the production, provides the sound design and she designed the attractive set, which features pretty pink walls and rugs, white church pews, and a flowery wedding trellis. Donald Rowe did the lighting design and Jacquie Carlson did costume design.
The production runs through Feb. 16. Box office: 203-878-6647.
Joanne Greco Rochman is a founder and former member of the Connecticut `Critics Circle and an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.